Popped, breathed in bottle 60 minutes, consumed over next sixty. Surprisingly enjoyable already. Fascinating, complex, lovely balance, with unique savory notes that make his wine very distinct and pleasurable and contribute to the tantalizing, expanding, firm but refined and friendly tannic finish.
decanted for about 2 hours (the black fruits wafted up from the decanter immediately). rich with dark fruit, floral and bramble/spice notes. on the palate, this is focused with tannins lifting the fruit extract and acid to support the richness. at this point, this wine is quite enjoyable but the fruit is all wrapped up in the acid/tannin. i suspect this will soften with time and evolve into something quite beautiful - try another in 5 years.
Poured at 35 min post-decant, consumed over the next 30-40 minutes: Huge plum, dark cherry. Slow leg forming. On the nose got beautiful oak, a little bit of pine, even. White pepper, tobacco. On the palate it was acidity forward. VERY strong tannin. Got a bit of pancetta and dry herbs from the wine... definitely a savory aftertaste. Orange peel.
The wine didn't taste like a cab-dominant blend to me. Almost had a Rioja/Tempranillo impression to me.
2 hours post-decant: Wine opened up and became the cab wine that I'm familiar with. The citrus dies off, and black currant came out. It got fruitier, but less intense/concentrated. Less smokey, but still a beautiful herbal cab with sweet merlot support. Very round and balanced structure.
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(Ridge Monte Bello) Barrel sample, 1st assemblage - dark purple violet color; lovely berry, cassis, dill (American oak) nose; tight but hinting at plushness to come, cassis, tart berry, currant palate with depth; long finish 92-94 pts. (67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot; 13.1% alcohol) Components: Barrel sample - Cabernet Sauvignon from south slope, La Cuesta - opaque purple violet color; elegant cassis, menthol nose; American oak, tart cassis, cedar palate with firm tannins; medium-plus finish 92-94 pts. Barrel sample - Merlot from Avenue Block - dark purple violet color; reduction, rich berry, plum, toasty oak nose; quite lovely, tasty, tart plum, black fruit palate; medium finish 91-93+ pts. (so nice, I'm hopeful they'll bottle some by itself) Barrel sample - Petit Verdot from Olivos and Levassuer parcels - opaque purple violet color; lovely, herbaceous, pencil lead, asphalt nose; tight, concentrated, tart currant, red plum, pencil lead palate; medium-plus finish 91-93 pts. Barrel sample - Cabernet Franc (not in 1st assemblage for Monte Bello) - opaque dark scarlet color; ripe red berry, herbal, cherry, 80% cocoa dark chocolate nose; tart cassis, herbal palate with medium acidity; medium finish 89-91 pts.
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