In the last two years, the 1995 Monte Bello has began to shed some of its formidable tannins, and is now drinking very well. The nose offers up notes of red and black fruits, rich earthy tones and nuances of cedar and leather. Deep and concentrated with a nice and classical balance between acidity, tannin and fruit, this is turning out very well, and Eric Baugher's concerns that he had pushed extraction too far seem to be unfounded.
The last time I had this wine, I brought it to Montrachet in Tribeca (with James and Fernando), so that must be ten or so years ago. This latest showing, to my palate, was not that great. The sides here show some drying out, and the fruit in the middle seems to be waning. Fairway Cafe with the guys.
drank on Cole's 19th bday, very nice with plenty of fruit and very young tasting, i think this wine would have been better in 5 - 10 years, and i heard from Eric and Joe that the last sip late in the evening (when i had moved on to other wines) was the best with more secondary flavors kicking in… wait on any bottles for a couple years (even if nice now)
At the winery. Poured from a Coravino. Tasted after the 2010 MB. Now this is what you would hope for with a MB. Fantastic aromas of dark fruit, those blueberries again, tobacco and minerals. The mouthfeel is medium to rich. The aromas are carried into the palate and if anything dominates it's the tobacco maybe, but there's definitely enough fruit to balance. The tannins are rather present still so I reckon this wine would improve even further with time. All the other ingredients are there to carry it forward another 5-10 years. A truly great wine!
Really stunning, and still quite young. This bottle came directly from the winery after a 30 yr vertical tasting event, the provenance was perfect, and it showed. Even if the color shows no age, the aromatics and the cool, full-bodied palate show the type of depth and breadth that can only come with age. The aromas sucked me in (I willingly surrendered) with bright, almost piercing notes of cassis, plums, earth and red floral leading the way. The palate confirms the nose, it's the real deal, and the great part, this is just getting started. Would love to see this again in 10 or 15 years. Beautiful. 12,5% abv, highly recommended, drink thru 2029
Limited tasting notes. Open bottle and tasted level to mid shoulder, then aired for 3 hours. Wine showed its age, with significant barnyard and wet earth notes, and limited but still existent tannins. The cabernet fruit has similarly mellowed. However the wine lacked complexity. Rather than gaining elegance, finesse, interest and complexity, this wine seems to have become a bit dull, with the wet earth, forest floor and barnyard notes dominating the palate.
Cork easily removed with Ah-so, decanted and immediately tasted. Color is still quite deep purple-ruby but not inky; nose is fairly complex with blackberry, some black cherry, slight mint, bramble, slight tobacco/cigar; palate is full bodied, juicy red cherry fruit, youthful, tannins that melt into the wine, do not detract at all; finish is medium-long. This tastes very young, almost adolescent especially on the palate, but certainly has balance, power, and complexity especially on the nose. I will be interested to see how this evolves with some air, but it seems like the bottles still need more time (~5 years before the next bottle). 93++ (much potential for growth). Update: 90 minutes of decanting: Nose has fleshed out a bit more with black fruits, a little vegetal, asparagus, otherwise largely unchanged. Approachable, but I suspect far too young even at 18 years of age. Wait 5+ years for the next bottle.
Drunk over lunch with friends. No formal notes. No signs of age in the color, nor in its aromas and flavours. The fruit is still there and quite fresh and expressive, in fact still dominating with respect to more evolved aromatic expressions, which start to show up. The tannins are perfectly integrated and this was overall a real pleasure to drink. ***
Tasted at the winery via Coravin. Very funky and horsey initially, with a couple of minutes of air that started to fade and with a proper decant would likely have dissipated altogether. Lots of cigar and black fruit on the nose, medium weight, still some structure remaining but the oak has fully integrated. Bordeaux like except for the sweet edge to the fruit, but if only all Bordeaux were this good. Pretty close to mature I think, but there's no rush here. Lovely wine.
On an evening we had wines from the diners wedding anniversary's the 95' Monte Bello Ridge shone - from Magnum. Up against the Grange 98 and Mollydooker Carnival of Love 07 this was for me the best wine (I know different wines and different styles). More class, more elegance, more balance. The Grange has in its favour the fact that it will continue to improve, but here and now, the 95 Monte Belle was stupendous. A lesson in tasting for young Nick as well. I had him taste it through its evolution over 3-4 hours. It improved slowly but steadily the entire time. At about the 3 hour mark it peaked and plateaued. Not sure when or if the drop would have been because we finished it before that occurred. As a note, the wine needs a good 1.5 hours decanting before it really starts to open up its fruit which is quite subdues till that point.
Second Sunday Group: 1995 Pauillac vs. Pessac (Rich's & Dana's): Deep garnet color. Quite reticent at first- dark berry fruit is all that is discernable. Flavors of dark fruit and iron. Opened more than any other in the flight as it sat; ripe red fruit- berries and raspberry, with hints of forest floor. Firm tannins with an abundance of red fruit- pretty. Long finish; nice balance. 93-94 pts.
My #6, Domino's #2 Group #8, 63 pts
Another taste with dinner: cedar, violets and black fruit. Wealth of red fruit on the palate; underlying herbal/forest floor quality; impressively long finish. Unfortunate that we have only one left in the cellar.
A backup bottle, popped & poured after I realized that the first bottle was mildly corked. Notes of black fruit, plums, tobacco and spice; hint of vanilla too. Structured; dark fruit and spice qualities. Long finish. Needs a healthy decant.
Classic Monte Bello. Dark to the rim. Heady aromas of cigar box, saddle leather, cassis, blackberries, earth. Close your eyes, it's a Pauillac. Still slightly tannic, great food wine, a stunner. In a great place but will last much longer. Excellent wine.
In comparison to my tasting note from 9/29/12 this wine was much much better. So at that point it was a suboptimal bottle.
Dark red in color, looks like a 5 yr old wine. Leather, dark berries, coffee and herbs. Lots of dark berries, earthyness, plenty of dark fruit that reminds of a great Pauillac. Very elegant, deep and balanced. Lots more to come! The massive tannins will give this wine a long life. I would hold until 2015. Drink until 2035+
Beautifully mature wine with still some fruits, beautiful herbs and spices and soft tannin and bitterness with still a good bite for longer maturing. It was a great opportunity to compare the2010 and 1995 beside each other. Great finesse in the 1995 and what a future for the 2010!
no formal notes so from memory this was fantastic on the palate with big red and blue fruits and plenty of menthol / mint, Eric + Louise + Becky all preferred it over the remarkable accessable 2002 Dunn Howell... i agreed but loved both frankly... this is a buy wine generally, and this bottle was no exception
Fragile but really singing right now. Red-purple in color with wonderful aromatic lift of eucalyptus, raspberry and smoke. Cassis, cedar, ash, earth, smoke and more complexity than all that. Last bottle but I would expect this to fade in another 3-5 years and I don't see further improvement.
Drank with minimal decanting and aeration time so this bottle had to open up in the glass which it did in spades. Even at the end, this wine seemed a little reticent to display its Montebello fruit. We loved it however as each sip seemed to show a continual evolution of tastes and surprises.
Opened by AllRed at CDP. No notes written down but I recall leather, barnyard, tobacco. Reminded me of my favorite parts of a bordeaux flavor profile (although obviously this is from CA). One of my top 5 bottles of this evening.
Ridge Monte Bello Vertical Tasting 1974 - 2008 (Switzerland): Where is the 1995 going? I expected much more from this wine. Still a nice intensive red color with a bouquet of coffee, licorice and red berries. Dry notes and surprisingly short. Would this wine have not been for the past 15 years in my ownership, I would have blamed bad storage for not performing better. Maybe decanting could help. Drink now - 2025 Possibly a suboptimal bottle
The Big Sendoff; 9/15/2012-9/16/2012 (The Home of Dave L): Great expressive nose of black fruit, cedar spice, and freshness. Palate showing more black fruits mixed with in cedar spice, moderate tannins, Finishes with sweet pipe tobacco, cedar, and black currants. Has that typical great Santa Cruz Mtns’s fruit profile. Great balance and poise just lacking the complicity of some of the other wines this night. Drinking well now, but may benefit from a few more years. 93-94
Wonderful, but subtle Cabernet. Very Bordeaux like in its proportions right now. Decanted, then tasted. Not much at first, but after an hour this beauty really started to show itself. There seems to be lots of life left in these wines.
Best bottle yet. Decanted briefly for sediment. Opaque crimson color. Blackberry, plum, violets, saddle leather and tobacco notes. Full-bodied, with loads of dark fruit, saddle leather, plum, chery and herb flavors. Developed a terrific graphite note toward the end of the night- others said slate. Long finish.
Opaque garnet color. Wonderful bouquet of iodine, tobacco, plum, forest floor and dark fruit. Medium- to full-bodied, tannins integrating nicely though still noticeable. Flavors of tobacco, black and red fruit and plum, also some woody/herbal notes. Long finish. Many at the table guessed Bordeaux. Drinking very well now with a couple hours' decant and will hold at this level for a while. 94-95 pts.
Still with a very dark and bold red/black color, and a very nice bordeaux-esque nose of wet earth, wood, and cranberry. The palate didn't quite show as well, dominated by acid and slightly watered down fruit. The tannins have mellowed, and the american oak and soil components are well integrated, but not adding much. Not a noticeably strong finish. Would've liked to have tasted this five years ago. This is almost certainly past its prime. Bought and consumed at the winery in Cupertino, so provenance was not an issue. Undeterred, I bought a 99' for my cellar on my way out.
Ridge Vineyards and Monte Bello Masterclass at the Decanter Fine Experience (Landmark Hotel, London): Deep red colour, hints of purple. Deeper in colour than the 1997. Nose with noticeable barnyard notes, dark berries, noticeable spice with dried mild spices, some smoky notes and some flowery notes. Developed, wonderfully nuanced, Bordeaux-classic nose (of the left bank type). Medium bodied++, palate with dark berries and sour red berries, spice, medium(+) tannins that have softened somewhat. Slightly hard aftertaste compared with many other other vintages. Ready to drink, nuanced, but still somewhat young and could gain further from some additional cellaring. 91-92 p
Decanter Ridge Vineyards Masterclass (Landmark Hotel London): Nose was slightly heavy with a VA and brett interplay - not bad really, but there was a strange nutty aroma as well. Also cassis, mint, and other herbal nuances. Some espresso coffee as well. Palate has a nice texture and aromatics are again "black", black fruit, charcoal and ink. Great wine but really not the kind I get excited about, but this is just a personal remark.
Upon a good friends departure several years ago, we enjoyed a 1999 Monte Bello (in 2007) as a departing gift. Same friend invests in futures with Monte Bello and procured a bottle of 1995 and laid it down until until tonight. Straight out of the bottle the nose was outstanding, but quickly dissipated after about an hour in the decanter. Initial drink was very bold. Heavy tanins; a chewy wine, slightly puckering, certainly had legs enough to remain in the bottle another 5 years. Perfect compliment to the Porterhouse steaks they were served with. Obviously, your not going to strike out with a Monte Bello, so you can open this now, but if you can hang on to it, your investment will only get better.
Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet Day Library Tasting: Medium garnet color with dark red fruit, leather, cigar box aromas. On the plates displaying medium-full bodied, nervy and fine-grained tannin with cherry, cedar, and mineral flavors. Long finish. 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc. 12.5% ABV
Dark crimson color. Aromas of florals, red currants, cassis and dark fruit, spice and tobacco. Full-bodied and very well-balanced, with flavors of red currant, leather, spice and tobacco. Long finish dominated by a mix of red and dark fruits, tobacco and herbs. Damn impressive. 94-95 pts.
A restrained rustic bottling. Showing a lot of Old World styling - stewed medium dark red fruit but more earth driven with a touch of iron gate. Lots of acid left. The palate was a tad thin but showed well at this stage. Still some life left.
4th Saturday Brown Bagger (Rich & Dana's): Deep crimson color. Aromas of forest floor, iron, dark fruit, violets and incense. Full-bodied, with loads of sweet drk fruit on the palate. Herb and underbrush tones come in on the long finish. Guessed Bordeaux.
This was double decanted about 4-5 hours before this flight was tasted.
Tated alongside the 1995-2000 vintages. The only wine in the flight with a slight rubbery funk to the nose. Less expressive than the gorgeous 1998 and pure 1996, this was the most "Napa" in profile. Lots of black licorice and decent complexity. Rather linear and one of the shorter wines on show. Still rather good, and as with all of these Mont Bellos the purity and quality of the fruit is outstanding.
Opened a 375. Dark purple in the glass. Soft blueberry and a bit of menthol on nose. First glass too tart and thick. Waited an hour and now drinking second glass. Much better. Softened to bright cherry, spice on top, and decent finish. Lesson - decant. Reading the other reviews, I am worried that I don't get it. Was not as good as what I read. Maybe it is the size or my ignorance. 4 more to go.
California BYO (@ Terkel): Perfumed nose with a little green pepper and black currants. Elegant and light blueberry fruit on the palate but also a little bit watery. A fresh and lovely wine but with a short aftertaste and lack of body it is a little bit boring.
Still some purple in the color. Beautiful mature and complex bouquet with ripe fruits, eucalyptus, mint, pleasant oak and a little pleasant barnyard. Very juicy dark fruits. A little chocolate. Spiciness. Both sweetness and acidity present in a good amount. Develops in the glass. Great wine.
Dinner at Martindale Hall, Clare Valley. Other wines: 1982 L'Evangile, 1985 Lafite, 1986 Yquem, 1986 Grange, 1988 Grange, 1988 Meo-Carmuzet Nuits St George, 1990 Brunel Cuvee Centenaire, 1995 Dominus, 1998 Las Cases, 1999 Leoville Barton, 2002 Grange, 2004 Cristom Jessie, 2004 Run Rig.
Opened and double decanted 4 hours prior to drinking. Slightly more austere on the nose initially than the Dominus, and this persisted to the table and the palate. This is a very, very serious wine. Where the Dominus was a bit of a party-girl, the Ridge was prim and proper, brought a chaperone, and was home to Pater at 10pm. The nose had an almost Pauillac-like nose of crushed rocks, smoke and leather, but with a glimpse of the flesh beneath in a tantalising whiff of plums and clove. The palate, for mine, was most similar on the night to the Lafite (which speak volumes for the ageworthiness of the top Bordeaux) - tightly wound with earthy, provencal-herbaceous notes intermixed seamlessly with rich blackberry and cinnamon/clove, and a hint of leather/mocha at the finish. The tannins were sublimely refined, ending each sample with a velvety brush across the back of the tongue and palate, along with the memorable and lingering aftertaste of the rich fruit. Drinking beautifully now, but has years on it. If I was lucky enough to have more, I'd wait another 5 years and try it again then.
Love this wine from my all-time favorite napa vintage, 1995. Brought and drank at a cal-cab vs. bordeaux tasting. The Ridge was one of the standouts. Nice color and fruit, great balance with the right acidity and sweet tannins showing. Compared alongside a 1995 behringer reserve (which was also excellent and peaking) and a 1986 Leoville Las Cases (very nice and mellow) . The Ridge is drinking great now and probably will last several more years.
This is classic and aging beautifully. It is totally approachable now and will hold longer, but I think the next year or so will be prime as the tannins are mellow and the fruit is very full. Has a earthy character to it and I am feeling like this will be best drunk over the next year or two.
Deep color with notes of blackberry, plum, leather and underbrush. Well-balanced, with dark fruit, leather, tobacco and herb flavors. Not quite as long on the finish as the previous bottle I tasted, but wonderful nonetheless, and a great match with Jody's roasted tenderloin.
Cherries, vanilla, and peppery spices on the nose. Garnet red. Pleasantly aggressive tannins dominate the start and finish of this wine. Black currant, toasted oak, and very distant leather. Very well-integrated such that separation of elements is difficult. Immensely enjoyable - the finish is delicious and lingering.
The 1995 Monte Bello is actually a Proprietary Red Wine as the blend is 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, and 3% Cabernet Franc. It was made from an extremely severe selection of only 25% of the harvest. Paul Draper feels it is the biggest, brawniest, and most muscular Monte Bello of the 1990s, and in need of 10-15 more years of cellaring. This saturated ruby/purple-colored effort is still backward, with a closed nose of minerals, oak, and subtle black fruits. In the mouth, it is large-scaled, tannic, rich, and long, but nearly abrasive because of the wine's high tannin level. This youthful, muscular, monster Monte Bello will require significant cellaring. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2035
69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petite Verdot. Lovely rich nose of roast meat, brambles, graphite and notes of blackcurrant and violets. A second sample from a different bottle showed more cedar. Great balance; smooth with a long finish. Far more youthful than the 1999. http://scmwine.blogspot.com/2009/05/2008-monte-bello-final-assemblage.html
Dinner with the boys at Club A. (Club A): 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc. Quite different in character than the '94. This one is much more serious and less generous, with higher acid and tannin levels. The fruit is redder, there's some barnyard, earth and brown root spices/sassafras flavors and aromas. A touch drying on the finish. Definitely more cerebral. I would think more time would do it well, but with the finish drying out a little, I'd be a tiny bit concerned, though would want to try another bottle before drawing any conclusions. Fwiw, I preferred the '95 to the '94 on release and in its first few years. A-/B+.
Not a great year for Ridge Montebello. Nevertheless enjoyable. We opened a '94 last night and it was appreciably a better wine than this '95. Decanted, the fruit that was evident immediately was cherry, that blew off after only a half hour to reveal some objectionable greenness that detracted from the mellow character of the mid palate. A relatively weak finish. I don't think there is any reason to keep this wine any longer, drink up. It's enjoyable nonetheless.
Still lots of fruit left in this bottle. Nose of black fruit, blackberries and cassis with a hint of oak. Loaded with black currant and blackberry, with a little blueberry on the palate. A little bacon fat with vanilla and smoke on the long finish. Tannins are starting to integrate, but I suspect that considering how much tannin it still has, this will be at its best in 3-7 years. Not the best Monte Bello I've had, but quite nice with dinner at Fork for Lindsey's Birthday and the day after.
Paired w/'95 Leoville B and '94 Pahlmeyer and Cheeses. Decanted 5 hr. Muted nose, not as pronounced as I remember. Well-balanced wine, but nothing startling here, unlike previous bottles. Nothing not to like, but the fruit has given way and the body isn't fully mature yet...perhaps Draper is right, give this another 4-5 years to mellow.
Ridge Monte Bello Tasting (The Wine Summit, Lake Louise, Alberta): 69% CS, 18% M, 10% PV and 3% CF – 12.5% ALC. Extremely dark in colour – black core; soft, penetrating nose, with a wonderful expression of sweet berry fruit – spices – a bit of floral creeping in also; no smoke on the nose with this wine; hugely concentrated and highly structured – big style of wine – acidity and tannins showing well; fresh currant berry fruit – both black and red; in spite of the body of this wine, the finish is soft and lingering – mostly with the fruit shining. This wine hasn’t fully evolved yet – promises well for continued cellaring.
The Wine Summit at The Post Hotel in Lake Louise Alberta Canada was fortunate to have Mr. Paul Draper as one of the presenters. After taking us all down a brief but interesting trip down memory lane, Mr Draper lead us trough a technical tasting of 8 Monte Bellos covering a range or 23 years. Draper explained 69% cab, 18% merlot, 10 % petit verdot, and 3 % cab franc. He also explain its was from a minimal dismal harvest. High tannic made this one tough to get into after the 05 and 96. I’d have to agree again with guitarguy as this was dumbed a bit. It was still very good with a ruby purple color and a stony mineral nose and berries in the nose and on the tongue. Paul said at least 3-10 more years and I think you’d have a great well softened wine.
1995 California Cabernet Horizontal (Mercy, mercy, mercy.) (Ruth's Chris.): 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot 10% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc On paper I thought this was going to be one of my favorite wines of the tasting and it was. It's elegance in a sea of excess this evening. There's bright cherry fruit, dust, light herb and spicy cedary oak on the nose and palate. Along with the Spottswoode, it seems to be aging the most gracefully in the group. Enoyable now, though decanting would help as it's a little closed up, but there's good potential here for future development. A-/B+.
Hard to get good notes, the restaurant had awful glasses. Nose raspberries and cabernet fruit. Throwing bunches of sediment. Moderate tannins, fully mature, good cab fruit. I would drink it but it probably has plenty of life left.
Drank during son's baptism weekend with family. This needed time in a decanter to develop and was quite subtle during the two hours we nursed it. I was surprised to find a Rutherford dirt quality to it. I cannot imagine it improving but it probably has a few more years to go.
A fine aged Monte Bello, Bordeaux like as always. It is a tad tight right now, maybe in a dumb phase. The nose is a little alcholic with a good waft of fresh blueberries. The tannins are tight and significant for such an aged beast. There is a hint of mint and eucalyptus in the mouth with a long but dry finish. Maybe just a tad tight and hot right now which keeps the rating at 91.
Courtesy of Tlily. An earthy wine with supple fruit notes of dark berries and cassis. Full bodied and integrated tannins. Still improving. This was my WOTN until I went to dinner with Pinot Envy and tasted what she pulled out of her bag. 94.
Everyone else was going nuts over this wine. While I found it exceptionally well-balanced and tightly concentrated, I found it less than enormously complex. Perhaps some degree of time will be needed for the wine to unwind and reveal those complexities, but I'm not so sure as I get more concentration than heavy tannin.