Had a dinner with the 1994 Tertre Rôteboeuf, 2002 Shafer Hillside Select and 1999 Ridge Monte Bello. Only the Shafer was decanted, the other two were opened and sat in the bottle for about 45 minutes before serving. The WOTN for me was the Ridge, followed by the Shafer. But all three were outstanding.
The Ridge had a long finish, and is in a great place right now. The tannins were smooth, and it wasn't a super heavy CA Cab. Oddly this is one of the few Monte Bellos that WA didn't review.
Dinner at Formento's (Chicago, IL): Quite dark in stature. The nose definitely shows a fair touch of American oak, while there's lovely black fruit and a hint of green pepper as well. Perhaps a bit more barnyard than one would expect from a Californian cabernet. The palate isn't too dense, and shows towards the darker end of the spectrum, but this is not a heavy wine at all. In fact, it's quite light as far as this genre goes, with very bright acids. The tannins are mostly resolved -- good to go now, but will likely hold for a while longer.
Very nice aged Cali wine. The 1999 Chateau Montelena Cab the estate was better as well as the 1999 Beringer Private reserve. The Monte bello was very soft and pleasant but it lacked the depth and flavor profile I would expect for $90+ per bottle. Finish was slightly acidic. Still very nice though.
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(Ridge Monte Bello) Medium dark ruby color with slight bricking; lovely, lifted, raspberry, ripe plum, herbal, seaweed nose; tasty, silky textured, maturing but still youthful, tart cassis, cedar, herbal, dried seaweed palate; long finish (72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot)
(Ridge Monte Bello) Very dark red violet color; berry, cassis, beets, beef jus nose; maturing, beef jus, green peppercorn, berry, iron, black fruit and fig palate; medium-plus finish (on a faster evolutionary track than the average Monte Bello, but still elegant and with years ahead of it)
(Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon) Wow! This has a very expressive nose, with piles of pure, deep, blue and black fruits on the nose. The palate is rather svelte, structured and yet balanced, rather more elegant than obvious. Rich, impressive wine, deep and spicy, with a core of ripe tannins which rally on the finish. Excellent, with great potential still.
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