2008 Ridge Vineyards "Monte Bello" Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2008 Monte Bello is striking. It is a decidedly muscular Monte Bello endowed with layers of dark fruit. Tobacco, mint, asphalt and crushed rocks develop in the glass, adding tons of complexity and finesse. A long, saline finish rounds things out beautifully. In 2008 the cold growing season stretched into October and the wine definitely has the feel of a cool vintage. The spring frost and the second year of drought conditions lowered yields significantly. Yields were just 1.25 tons per acre on average, but some of the older vineyards came in at less than 1 ton per acre. The balance of fruit, tannin and structure is simply extraordinary, but the wine needs time, most likely lots of it. In 2008 the blend is 72% Cabernet Sauvignon and 28% Merlot. Anticipated maturity: 2018-2038.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Glass-staining ruby. Powerful, pungent aromas of cherry-vanilla, cassis, candied licorice and graphite, along with a suave floral oil quality that gains strength with air. Deeply pitched dark berry flavors show a liqueur-like intensity, as well as notes of smoky Indian spices, violet and vanilla. Ripe but quite vibrant, wih superb finishing clarity and persistence. This extremely young wine makes the case that high alcohol isn't a prerequisite for intensity or power in California cabernet.
Very tight, dense, tense and firm, with aromas of road tar, dried currant and dried tobacco leaf offering plenty of enticement, picking up gamy earth and black licorice notes. Retains its trim, narrow band of flavors and focus..
Mainly Cabernet Sauvignon, with the balance Merlot, this is a delicious wine for drinking now. It’s rich and succulent in berries, cherries, currants, dark chocolate and cedar, and the tannins are soft and refined. Given Monte Bello’s history of extreme ageworthiness, you might want to cellar it for an extended period of time.
If in its best versions, Montebello Cabernets are classic expressions of balance, varietal complexity and refined understatement, this bottling strikes us as just a little too quiet and lesser in scale. It is carefully crafted and very claret-like in construction, but its fruit is a touch underplayed, and its combination of acidity angularity and stiffening tannin leaves it hard to approach now and a wine for its most ardent fans.
Jancis Robinson: "Very correct and with lots of lift. Dry finish and wonderfully complex though embryonic." (11/2011)