2005 Ridge Vineyards "Monte Bello" Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
While in a good year there's normally 4,000 cases of the Monte Bello, there was a scant 2,200 cases produced of the 2005 Monte Bello. Thick, massive, and concentrated with ample currants, lead pencil, licorice and chocolate aromas and flavors, this full-bodied beauty is just now at the early stages of adolescence, and has plenty of underlying tannic grip still present. It should hit full maturity in another 4-5 years and hold for 2-3 decades after that. (JD)
Wine & Spirits
The vines at Ridge's Monte Bello estate vineyard, at altitudes from 1,300 to 2,660 feet above the Pacific, consistently produce one of the greatest Cabernet Sauvignons in California. In 2005, a cold, wet spring cut yields to one ton per acre, the lowest level in ten years. The summer and fall ripened that small crop into something extraordinary. That season highlighted the factors that distinguish this wine: the maturity of the Cabernet Sauvignon vines, some that date to 1949; the limestone subsoils that sustain the vines without irrigation; the native yeast fermentations and the skill of the blending team, which selected half of the production for this final blend (in addition to 70 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, it includes Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc). It tastes like an authentic California wine, with the flavor of mountain-grown fruit-tiny berries, very dark in color and not a lot of them. The tannins have the intensity of wild blueberries, a soft power that's friendly rather than austere. Its fresh, bright floral aspects combine seamlessly with the structure, pointing up the wine's youthful beauty. The moderate alcohol (13.4 percent) is just one more factor that predicts a long life ahead for this wine.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Deep ruby. Explosively perfumed nose offers a profound bouquet of ripe cherry, blackcurrant, yellow rose, Asian spices and vanilla bean; you could use this for incense. Deep and sweet but remarkably precise, offering powerful dark berry and kirsch flavors supported by substantial, velvety tannins. The fruit plows through the finish with superb energy, depth and clarity, fully absorbing the tannins. A big but wonderfully balanced example of Monte Bello, and sure to reward extended cellaring.
*Two Stars* For more than three decades, Ridge Montebello Cabernets have generated their fair share of excitement in the market. In more years than not they challenge for top honors, and when the wine is good, as it is in this vintage, it is very good indeed. This bottling begins with deep and yet very mannerly aromas of cassis, pencil lead and violets and builds with complex, claret-like flavors that combine poise and richness. So finely fit as to be almost seamless, it has the balance and layering to invite a decade and more of cellaring.
Looks so healthy. Sweetly ripe but great balance. Red-pepper powder -- paprika. Dusty. But great fluidity. 18.5/20 points.