2008 Ridge Vineyards "Monte Bello" Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon

SKU #1071647 95 points Decanter

Outer quote mark Sumptuous on the nose, this shows a discernible oakiness as well as intense minty tones. Sleek and very polished, this has no rough edges and all the concentration one would expect from a small crop this year. It still has an admirable freshness that keeps it youthful, as does the tannic backbone. This has real presence and structure and admirable length. (SB) Inner quote mark (10/2022)

95 points Wine Advocate

Outer quote mark The 2008 Monte Bello is marked by the drought vintage, which not only made a more concentrated crop but also deprived the blend of all supporting varieties, as only Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot handled the dry conditions sufficiently gracefully to make the final cut. At age ten, this muscular Monte Bello is finally beginning to unwind, offering up rich aromas of black cherry, cassis, dried mountain laurel, loamy soil and burning embers. On the palate, it's full-bodied, expansive and powerful, its generous, sweetly fruited attack giving way to a taut, firm mid-palate that doesn't show as much finesse as the 2010 or 2012, concluding with a long, stony finish. Baugher observes that in its youth, the 2008 was 'monolithic and more angular—a mouthful of tannin.' A decade later, it's beginning to soften, but it still requires another 5 or 6 years of bottle age. (WK) 95+ Inner quote mark (5/2018)

95 points Int'l Wine Cellar

Outer quote mark 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. (JR) 95+ Inner quote mark (10/2011)

95 points Vinous

Outer quote mark The 2008 Monte Bello is in a gorgeous spot right now, as the aromatics are just starting to show the complex nuances that only develop in bottle. Worn-in leather, licorice, scorched earth, savory herbs and chocolate meld into a core of intense dark fruit. Slightly angular contours hint at a bit of rusticity. (AG) Inner quote mark (9/2020)

95 points Wine & Spirits

Outer quote mark Monte Bello is a wine of nuance and harmony, its sleek structure and scents of truffles and tar giving it a feel more often associated with the Old World than the New. The blend is 72 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, the balance in Merlot, grown on a limestone ridge under the cool influence of the Pacific 15 miles to the west. This vintage, from a relatively short crop, has impressive flavor impact without weight. It feels almost spherical, the supple tannins surrounding blueberry and black mushroom flavors, the freshness of the Cabernet hinting at pipe tobacco. A pleasure to drink now, this is firmly built to age a decade or longer. Inner quote mark (12/2011)

95 points Wine Spectator

Outer quote mark Tightly packed, with vivid fig, currant and blackberry fruit, while a spice thread and a light singed wood hint add lift and cut throughout. This has hit a really engaging phase and is starting to shed its youthful exuberance ever so slightly. (JM, Web-2019) Inner quote mark

94 points James Suckling

Outer quote mark This is very closed on the nose, but it is showing notes of blueberries, Spanish cedar, and sandalwood. Full-bodied, with firm and fine tannins and a light vanilla and berry character. This is textbook traditional California Cabernet. A lovely depth of fruit that gives way to roses on the finish. Subtle. Inner quote mark (6/2011)

Jancis Robinson

Outer quote mark Very correct and with lots of lift. Dry finish and wonderfully complex though embryonic. 18/20 points (JR) Inner quote mark (9/2011)

K&L Notes

93+ points Stephen Tanzer for Vinous: "Bright, saturated ruby; this looks younger than a ten-year-old wine. Cassis, licorice, tar, mint, dark chocolate and crushed rock on the nose, plus some obvious spicy, vanillin American oak. At once seamless and piquant on the palate, with pungent licorice and herb notes enlivening the dark berry fruit flavors. A real live wire of a wine, with the lower alcohol obvious in its energy, definition and lift. Not a fleshy or particularly pliant vintage of Monte Bello--in fact, this is cooler and more savory than normal for this bottling--but the very dry, firmly tannic finish features subtle rising length. Still very young, this wine may well merit an even higher score if it eventually blossoms in bottle?" (03/2018)

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Price: $279.99
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By: Kyle Kurani | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 9/14/2011 | Send Email
Coming from an extraordinarily small vintage, the concentration and depth of this year's Monte Bello is astonishing. Drinking this over two days revealed layers upon layers of full, dark fruit, laced with sand stone, old leather, and minerality stemming from the limestone in the vineyard. A wine that will surely age with grace and style, something I can't wait to open with good friends and family in the next 10 to 20 years.

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