Ridge Monte Bello is stunning, undervalued and globally renowned. It is the flagship wine and Bordeaux blend of the great Ridge Estate: only 3,000 cases of Monte Bello are made a year and 30% never leaves the US. Due to Monte Bello’s renown, the Estate is able to mimic the Bordeaux en primeur futures system, with the 2012 and 2013 vintage currently ageing in barrel, becoming physical in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Production is low and allocations feverishly sought after, as such we are delighted to be able to offer a small parcel of the truly great 2013, a vintage that will become legendary in California. In 2013 Ridge Monte Bello received an initial score of 94-96+ from Antonio Galloni, which gives it the potential to be one of their greatest ever wines.
There has been a great deal written on the validity of Bordeaux en primeur in recent years; however, Ridge Monte Bello practices this system perfectly by providing clients a huge incentive to buy on release – if they can secure an allocation. Below we have inserted a breakdown of Monte Bello’s vintages since 2001 and applied the Points vs Price Ratio (POP) to it. It is clear Monte Bello rises in price after bottling, yet also while in barrel, based on the evidence below vintages can be anticipated to rise over 10% after one year in barrel, then again significantly after several years: in short it pays to buy en primeur whether one has the intention of drinking or reselling for a profit; ironically it appears this US powerhouse understands the French system better than the Bordelaise! As one might expect the 2013 has the lowest POP score of all their vintages and as a rule of thumb, this heuristically suggests this is a superb buy.
Monte Bello’s reputation was cemented in 1976, when it achieved fifth place against nine other French and Californian wines, it then achieved first place from both the US and UK judges at the Judgement of Paris’ 30th anniversary. It is a Cabernet dominant wine, closest in style to the great Bordeaux left bank estates. Each year the wine undergoes an exhaustive tasting which leads to the assemblage process determining the amount of Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc to be included: Merlot adds a supple plum character with softness and a powerful mid-palate; the perennial backbone of Cabernet Sauvignon provides flavours of cassis, dark fruit and fine tannin; Petit Verdot contributes its dark colour and hints of earthiness and Cabernet Franc provides extra fragrance and a hint of spice.
Ridge Monte Bello is a single estate located high atop the Santa Cruz Mountains, 900 metres above and 15 miles from the Pacific, on a ridge above Silicon Valley, south of San Francisco: it is classified Santa Cruz Moutains AVA. The vineyard boasts a terroir of decomposing limestone, Franciscan rock; production is painstaking with extremely low yields, less than one tonne per acre. Although Ridge was founded in the 1960s it has a rich and long history, with the first vines being planted by a prominent doctor, Osea Perrone in 1885; the first Monte Bello wine was produced in 1892. In 1959 Ridge’s wooden barns and ancient vines were convalesced by a small group of Stanford scientists who took the project on as a weekend hobby. After tasting the magnificent quality the Estate could produce they employed Paul Draper to become the full-time winemaker; he remains the CEO and head winemaker today, assisted by Eric Baugher a microbiologist, mainly found in their high-tech lab. Today Draper is focused on expanding the global profile, regularly visiting the UK, the most important export market, while stretching allocations to meet new market demand.
The final blend is selected from 24 parcels, sorted firstly by an automated machine, then by hand. After a natural primary fermentation, it undergoes a secondary fermentation. The wine then spends 18 months in barrel, 96% new air-dried American oak and 4% new French oak. Monte Bello combines the vineyard’s elevation, cool climate and extraordinary terroir with incredible wine making skill and commitment to quality. The alcohol levels are low for a wine from the region; the wine is graceful, harmonious and it compliments food wonderfully. It can age for 30 to 50 years, while tasting brilliantly after a few years in bottle. In June this year The Daily Mail voted it America’s best wine and simply put, it is exceptional and competes with the world’s greatest wines.
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