Baby Monte Bello doesn't quite sound right, but if you've ever dreamed of Monte Bello, then you'll know that this is high praise indeed.
Intense and layered, elegant and so refined, this is one of the most delicious Cabernet Sauvignons made anywhere in the world today.
Like many of their extraordinary wines, this is technically a field blend and is made up, for the 2018 vintage, of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot. We are right in the heart of the old-fashioned Left-Bank make up, yet we are also a long way from it. The soils and climate are essentially the biggest difference to the wine, as it's clear that the Ridge ethos is very definitively French and traditionally old-school in its outlook. Terroir-focused, low-intervention, organic and low-extraction levels, French oak and no fining or filtering - in fact, some of their practices are too French for many Bordelais... So the dry earth, mineral substructures and cooling Pacific breezes, warm continental air mass from the East: these are the defining aspects in the Ridge arsenal.
The winemaking is incredibly simple - natural fermentation with native yeasts; natural spontaneous malo-lactic fermentation; very low sulphur additions; 4 egg whites per barrel to reduce tannins; and gentle depth-filtration at bottling. Plain and simple and frighteningly brave.
The end result? A wine with saturated purple colour; notes of red and black Morello cherry, blueberry, chocolate and toffee, sweet spices and toasted oak. Bramble fruit and cassis on the palate with round, supple tannins, mouth-coating body and a long, long finish.
94 Points – Wine Enthusiast
94 Points – James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com
And, a note from Jancis, which I like a lot:
Jancis Robinson: 17.5 “Very deep crimson. Exotically spicy notes rather reminiscent of stereotypical Mouton! An attractive drink already with ripe, interesting fruit and a dry finish. Not ashamed to display a bit of tannin at this early juncture – very unlike most California Cabs. Relatively Good Value.”
Region: Santa Cruz Mountains
Grape(s): Petit Verdot, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon
Style: Svelte, Structured, Silky, Round, Medium Bodied, Elegant, Complex, Balanced
Best food matches: Steak, Soft Cheeses, Red Meats, Mature Cheeses, Lamb, Hard Cheeses, Charcuterie