The 2002 Monte Bello Proprietary Red is a blend of 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot and 8% Petit Verdot. It tastes as if it hasn’t changed since I first sampled it in late 2003 and then again in bottle two years later. The color is healthy ruby/purple, and the wine displays some dusty, oaky, vanillin notes that jump out of the glass along with a touch of white chocolate as well as red and black currants and hints of cedar and forest floor. Extremely young and full-bodied, with some wood char still present, it is unevolved and tastes like it could be a barrel sample, except that it has been in bottle for nearly ten years! This is a blockbuster Ridge Monte Bello that still needs a minimum of another 10 years of bottle-age and should keep for 50+ years. Only for the young and patient! Rating: 95+
Resting high atop the Santa Cruz Mountains is the Monte Bello vineyard where exquisite wines have been engrained in the estate’s distinguished history. The 180 acres of land was formerly purchased by Dr. Osea Perrone in 1855. The winery and vineyards were left untouched during the years of Prohibition, and later purchased and planted to Cabernet in 1949 by William Short. Ten years later, the estate was sold to three engineers from the Stanford Research Institute from which they produced a tiny amount of wine from the vines planted by Short. The success of that wine and the vintages that followed inspired Dave Bennion and his partners to restore this winery, and Ridge Vineyards was born.
Paul Draper joined the team in 1969 and with his knowledge of fine wine and traditional methods, helped guide Ridge vineyards to craft wines of consistent quality and international recognition. The 1971 Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon placed fifth at the 1976 Judgement of Paris. Among the prestigious awards Draper has earned, he is continuing to make rigorously classic and age worthy wines.
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