Ridge Montebello 2014
Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz
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97 Points (Robert Parker) A worthy successor to the profound 2013 and the fruit of the earliest harvest on record at this address, the 2014 Monte Bello is still quite youthfully expressive, wafting from the glass with an exuberant bouquet of minty dark berries, plums, black cherries, cigar box and a nicely integrated framing of new oak. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied, deep and intense, with a rich chassis of structuring tannins, which are currently largely concealed in a succulent core of fruit, and bright balancing acids. In profile, it’s structurally more open-knit and giving than the massive 2013, and I suspect it will reach its plateau sooner, but it should enjoy over three decades of longevity. The blend is 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, and it attained 13.5% natural alcohol. “The drought had a positive effect on concentration,” observed winemaker Eric Baugher when we corresponded shortly after harvest, adding that “the wines are opaque in color, with rich tannins and marvellous fruit.” Four years later, that remains an accurate characterization of the 2014 Monte Bello.