The highlights were the 1992 and 2008 Monte Bellos side by side. '92 is of course a legendary vintage and kinda kicked off the "new age" of sought-after California cabs. Kudos to Ridge for keeping pricing in line and sticking to their style. The similarities were striking in the wines -- although sixteen years apart. Good earthy, loamy, mushroomy minerality are threads throughout. The '08 of course being younger, wilder and sexier. The '92 was still absolutely gorgeous and at a great balance of fruit and development.
- 1992 Ridge Monte Bello - 80% cab, 11% merlot, 9% PV. Effusive nose of crushed stone/charcoal, tar and mushroomy loamy earth. Some of that dried berry, dusty cavey goodness. Tannic and still youthful. Nice.
- 2008 Ridge Monte Bello - 72% cab, 28% merlot. Wonderful, youthful nose -- spices, cherry, loamy minerally earth, thyme... oak present but not intrusive. Juicy and unctuous yet balanced.
I’ve tried several Monte Bellos over the years, including a ’91 out of half bottle recently that was still youthful even out of .375. If there’s a California red you can chalk up to ageworthiness it’s Monte Bello for sure. Like older Dunn cabs, it ages beautifully. And I remember tasting the ’08 Monte Bello at Ridge at their barrel tasting a few years back. 2008 was a very dry year (remember the Bay Area water warnings?) and yields were low but quality was good. Out of barrel the ’08 was sexy and wild, with good spicy oak used judiciously. Interesting how after three years all the components have settled and mellowed some, but the juicy unctuousness is still there. These wines are almost in slow-motion how they age, if this is sixteen years!
For the complete account of the event and detailed tasting notes, check CellarTracker here.