Robert Parker 95
“The product of a late-October harvest, the 1995 vintage was Eric Baugher’s first vintage as Ridge’s winemaker alongside Paul Draper, and I remember him telling me in 2012 that he was afraid extraction had been pushed too far and that the wine might always be somewhat monolithic. In the last three years, however, the 1995 Monte Bello has began to shed some of its formidable tannins, and it’s clear that those fears were unfounded. The nose offers up rich aromas of cassis and red plums that mingle with nuances of sweet, loamy soil, cigar box and subtle leather. On the palate, the 1995 is full-bodied, deep and super concentrated, with its powerful core of fruit framed by melting tannins and underpinned by tangy acids, concluding with a long and distinctly stony finish. Today, the 1995 ranks as one of the highlights of the decade. Think of it as a somewhat more rustic cousin of the 2005. It’s a blend of 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc that attained 12.5% natural alcohol.”
Anticipated maturity: 2018-2035
The 1995 Monte Bello is powerful, bright and incisive. At twenty years of age, the 1995 retains gorgeous, refreshing acidity that gives the wine lift and energy. The 1995 is a brooding Monte Bello, with darker tonalities of fruit and accompanying notes of smoke, licorice, spice, menthol, tobacco and cedar. Although the 1995 is striking today, it could also use more time in bottle, as it remains a touch compact and austere, especially next to the 2012 and 2002 tasted alongside it. Readers who enjoy cool, mineral and savory inflected Cabernets will adore the 1995, a wine that will drink well for another 20 years. Vineyard manager David Gates describes 1995 as a cool, relaxed, late ripening season that yielded small berries with elevated tannins. A second recent bottle was a bit more open and ample. Either way, the 1995 Monte Bello is a remarkably vivid, expressive wine that has a long life ahead of it.
Anticipated maturity: 2020-2040
69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc. Beautifully integrated aromatics with hints of eucalyptus and sandalwood, a bit of floral lift and back notes of white mushroom and forest floor, and a snap of fresh, broken pea pod. The palate is juicy and full of succulent fruits, even still fresh ” why am I even still surprised by the freshness when Monte Bello consistently ages so long? ” and a persistent spice through the palate. Still firm tannins though quite fine-grained and well balanced by the acidity for impressive length. (ECB)
Anticipated maturity: 2018-2045