1996 Ridge Vineyards "Monte Bello" Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon

SKU #301075 98 points Vinous

 Ridge's 1996 Monte Bello is an absolute stunner. The bouquet evokes a top Left Bank Bordeaux in a great vintage. Not surprisingly, the Cabernet Sauvignon in the 1996 is very high at 80%. Every bit as compelling on the palate, the 1996 simply exudes class. I am not sure words alone can capture just how vivid the wine is at twenty years of age. Graphite, smoke, tobacco, licorice and a core of dark fruit unfold on the palate as the 1996 shows off its pedigree. Readers lucky enough to own it can look forward to another two decades plus of exceptional drinking. The 1996 is an uber-classic, Médoc-leaning Monte Bello. What a wine! (AG)  (7/2016)

96 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 The most aromatically exotic vintage of the decade, the 1996 Monte Bello is superb, bursting from the glass with an extravagant bouquet of cassis, cigar box, rich soil, roasted meats and decadent oriental spices. On the palate, it's medium to full-bodied, richly tannic and very intense, with a deep and tight-knit core and a bright line of acidity, concluding with a long, youthful finish. The 1996 vintage saw rain during flowering—which reduced yields at this address to less than one ton per acre—followed by a warm summer. The result is a super concentrated Monte Bello that hasn't even reached its plateau of maturity yet. Choosing between this and the formidable 1995 will always be a challenge, but I suspect the 1996 has the greater upside. The blend consists of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot and 9% Petit Verdot, attaining 13.2% alcohol. (WK)  (5/2018)

92 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 Good full bright ruby. Wild, superripe aromas of cassis, plum, cocoa, soy sauce, leather, roasted game and plum sauce, all lifted by a floral note. Lush, thick and dense, but the currant, black cherry and menthol flavors are still austere. The slight green note repeats on the long finish, which features faintly gritty tannins. In an awkward stage today, but has all the elements to make a superb bottle. (ST) 92+  (10/2000)

Jancis Robinson

 Still very dark crimson - looks much younger than 20 years old. Very rich, ripe nose - sweet and exotic - with a strong blackcurrant pastille and some balsam quality. Then on the palate there is amazing youthfulness and freshness. Heady, meaty, dense and with a long life ahead. 18/20 points (JR)  (4/2016)

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Price: $229.99
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Varietal:

Cabernet Sauvignon and Blends

- Cabernet Sauvignon has come a long way from its role as a blending varietal, however dominant, in the wines of Bordeaux. Today it is the most planted red varietal in the world. Identified as a descendent of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, the late-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon needs to be planted in warmer climates to fully ripen. Its small berries can easily be identified for their distinctive blue color, thick skins and high tannins. And while the varietal has its own definitive characteristics: green pepper-like aromas and black currant flavors among them, it is perhaps most prized for its ability to convey terroir, vintage and winemaking. A relatively new varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon started making inroads into the wines of the Médoc and Graves in the late-18th century. Today it is also dominant in the up-and-coming Entre-Deux-Mers region of Bordeaux and can also be found in Southwest France. It is the companion varietal to Sangiovese in Italy's Super Tuscans and is planted all over Europe, stretching to lesser-known winegrowing regions like Russia and Lebanon. In the Americas Cabernet Sauvignon has found champions in every nook and cranny of California and among winemakers in Washington, where it complements plantings of Merlot. In South America, Cab thrives in Chile, but can also be found in smaller amounts in Argentina and even in Mexico.
Country:

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world.
Sub-Region:

California

- With the explosive growth that California's wine industry has seen the past several years, it's easy to view winemaking and grape growing in the Golden State as a recent phenomenon. And while it's true that California's viticultural history is brief compared to several European countries, this state's roots date back well over 200 years. Due to the enormous response to California wine within the United States and worldwide, there are thousands of excellent and diverse wines being produced within the state each year.
Specific Appellation:

Santa Cruz Mountains

- Vineyards dot the valleys and ridges of this coastal AVA just south of San Francisco. Microclimates make it difficult to generalize, and vineyards are frequently separated by acres of forests and meadowlands (not to mention entire towns!), but this is nonetheless known as a cooler-climate zone ideal for pinot noir. Ridge is doubtless the most famous local producer, with its cabernet blend, Monte Bello, named after a Santa Cruz mountain peak. High-quality, low-production chardonnay and some Rhône varietals prosper as well.
Organic: