2015 Ridge Vineyards "Monte Bello" Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon

SKU #1362072 100 points James Suckling

 Stunning depth, power, purity and elegance. The blackcurrants and plums are fresh and intense on the nose with blueberries and gently herbal notes, too. The palate has a keenly articulated array of vibrant tannins that hold long, fresh and pure. It invokes a sense of wonderment at the finish. So long and so pure. This blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc, is just at the start of a wonderful journey.  (11/2018)

98 points Jeb Dunnuck

 A blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, and the rest Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Bello is unquestionably going to be one of monumental vintages of this wine. Deep, incredibly concentrated, and powerful, yet also textured and perfectly balanced, this beauty gives up a huge nose of cassis, plums, spice box, graphite, and vanilla bean. With full-bodied richness on the palate, it starts out tight and firm yet blossoms with time in the glass (I followed this bottle for multiple days) and has an awesome mid-palate, building yet perfectly ripe tannins, and a rock star finish. It's about as classic a Monte Bello as they come and will require 4-6 years of bottle age (or more) and shine for three decades or more. 98+  (2/2019)

98 points Vinous

 The 2015 Monte Bello is just as phenomenal in this tasting as it has always been. Explosive and powerful in the glass, with fabulous textural richness, the 2015 has a lot to say. Super-ripe red and purplish berry fruit, rose petal and spice add myriad shades of complexity as this towering Monte Bello shows off its personality and pedigree. Rain during bloom reduced the crop significantly. Moderate temperatures with no heat spikes led to a long, relatively cool growing season. (AG) 98+  (8/2018)

95 points Decanter

 If any Cabernet Sauvignon has a track record for quality and ageability in California, it’s Ridge’s Cabernet from the Monte Bello vineyard. (The wine came in first in Steven Spurrier’s 30 year re-enactment of the Judgment of Paris tasting). The Monte Bello vineyard is 109 miles south of Napa Valley in the cool Santa Cruz Mountains. For 47 years, it was made by legendary winemaker Paul Draper who formally turned over the reins to Eric Baugher in 2016. The 2015 Monte Bello (which has a touch of Cabernet Franc) is sleek, tight, and precise, with fine tannins and a quiet elegance. Drinking Window 2020 - 2045 (KM)  (10/2019)

95 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 At this early stage, the 2015 Monte Bello is all about potential. I followed a bottle over several days and only witnessed improvement. The wine unfurls in the glass with a rich bouquet of cassis, ripe plums, espresso roast, black tea and baking chocolate, lavishly framed by minty, spicy new oak—which is often at its most prominent at exactly this stage, when the wine is shutting down after bottling. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied, deep and concentrated, with rich, velvety tannins and beautifully succulent, even tangy acidity that lends amazing lift on the finish. The most obvious analogy is the 2005 vintage, though it also evokes a more elegant version of the 1995 Monte Bello. It's a blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc that attained 13.5% natural alcohol. Since the wine appears to be shutting down, I'd recommend forgetting it until its tenth birthday. Given its structure and balance, it should enjoy remarkable longevity. (WK) 95+  (7/2018)

94 points Connoisseurs Guide

 As distinctive as ever and a Cabernet Sauvignon that is as complex as any to be found with a keen core of classic, cassis-like fruit infused with elements of black olives, fresh loam, stony soil and a trim touch of briary spice, the latest Monte Bello hews to the expected Ridge norms of temperate ripeness and very careful construction. It is altogether fascinating, eminently collectable stuff, to be sure, and becomes more interesting yet with each successive sip, but it should not be considered for drinking without having had the opportunity to grow into its best, and, with a requisite rest of some six to eight years, it may well emerge as its very capable maker’s best effort in recent vintages. *Two Stars*  (4/2019)

94 points Wine & Spirits

 Eric Baugher heads up the team at Ridge’s Monte Bello estate, a collection of vineyards ranging in elevation from 1,300 to 2,700 feet, and a 19th-century stone winery near the top. Paul Draper made the first vintage of Monte Bello in 1969, a blend based on cabernet sauvignon to which he added other Bordeaux varieties depending on the season. Aside from Draper’s winegrowing, in which he insisted on maximum observation to minimize intervention, what sets Monte Bello apart from other great cabernets of California’s north coast is the decomposing limestone bedrock the vine roots use to sustain their foothold in these hills. Between the altitude and the limestone, this is cabernet with plenty of natural acidity; Baugher’s 2015, a concentrated vintage with low yields due to cold, stormy weather at flowering, feels particularly cool and brisk. This is savory cabernet, with what Tastings editor Karen Moneymaker described as the skinny beauty of a supermodel. The dark currant flavors, scents of tobacco and deep umami undertones all register in a clean, seriously structured wine. Like other great vintages of Monte Bello, this should live for decades.  (10/2018)

93 points Wine Spectator

 Ripe, with waves of dark currant, fig and blackberry fruit flavors cruising through. Delivers ample cut on the back end, where charcoal and graphite notes check in, along with tobacco, menthol and sage details. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc.—Non-blind Ridge Monte Bello vertical (June 2019). Best from 2023 through 2040. (JM)

Jancis Robinson

 Incredibly young and snug as it needs more time in bottle but there is plenty of complexity here that will uncurl and reveal itself with age. Notes of dark fruits, graphite and gunmetal that open with plenty of air to a pleasing fresh herbal-floral lift and intriguing notes of sandalwood with just a hint of eucalyptus. Quite fine while abundant tannins and mouth-watering acidity. This is a lovely wine that will do well with several more years in the cellar. 18+/20 points. (ECB)  (10/2018)


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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.