Part of a tasting put together by my friend jeffreylubowski. This bottle was from Andy's collection. Clean label and excellent ullage. Cork came out in one piece. Ninety-two percent Cabernet Sauvignon with the remaining balance Merlot. Color was quite good and indicative of a younger wine. Wine did not appear tawny in color for a 33-year old wine, but the lighting in the room limited further scrutiny. Nose and palate were pretty much the same, with elements of dark fruits (mulberry mostly), herbs, a bit of eucalyptus/menthol along with a touch of iron-like tannins. The mulberry and high notes of menthol made the wine taste rich without being jammy. Did not develop the cigar box element I fondly remember from the 1991 Monte Bello, but it's a lovely wine. Clearly a California wine for all the right reasons. Well integrated. Would enjoy tasting this wine against a 1st or 2nd growth Bordeaux from the same vintage. (1981 was a drought year. Alcohol: 12 percent.)
This was outstanding. The cork was suspect, so I was fairly nervous, but this had an absolutely captivating bouquet of damp earth, leather, tobacco, and herbs with a great core of cassis and red currant fruit. The nose was complex and developed well for 90 minutes. The palate was rich with fruit yet very elegant with a perfect amount of tannin that was well integrated. The finish was great initially, but did begin to fade after about 75 minutes. This bottle was purchased direct from the winery cellar. I think a well stored bottle still has years ahead of it as this was nowhere near over the hill. What a lovely wine.
I brought this and served it blind. We had just had the 1997 which was served by someone else, so this was fun. This was red fruited, elegant and hugely complex. Great wine with a perfect level of maturity (although it could go on). Discussions went between much younger Bordeaux or Bolgheri, no one would go to the US. Widely agreed to have been one of the best wines of the night. An eye opener for many.
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(Ridge Monte Bello) Bricking medium garnet red color with pale meniscus; mature, dill, weedy, cedar nose; mature, solid, balanced, tart cassis, dill, cedar palate; long finish (I was guessing this was several years younger than '81; 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot)