|U.S.A.||1996||Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Bello, Ridge Vineyards||BT||0 \ 6||6||3,500.00||12||6||388.888888||98.00||98.00||Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Bello, Ridge||0.75||10|
|Wines are offered subject to remaining unsold. E&OE.|
Ridge's 1996 Monte Bello is an absolute stunner. The bouquet evokes a top Left Bank Bordeaux in a great vintage. Not surprisingly, the Cabernet Sauvignon in the 1996 is very high at 80%. Every bit as compelling on the palate, the 1996 simply exudes class. I am not sure words alone can capture just how vivid the wine is at twenty years of age. Graphite, smoke, tobacco, licorice and a core of dark fruit unfold on the palate as the 1996 shows off its pedigree. Readers lucky enough to own it can look forward to another two decades plus of exceptional drinking. The 1996 is an uber-classic, Médoc-leaning Monte Bello. What a wine!
The most aromatically exotic vintage of the decade, the 1996 Monte Bello is superb, bursting from the glass with an extravagant bouquet of cassis, cigar box, rich soil, roasted meats and decadent oriental spices. On the palate, it's medium to full-bodied, richly tannic and very intense, with a deep and tight-knit core and a bright line of acidity, concluding with a long, youthful finish. The 1996 vintage saw rain during flowering—which reduced yields at this address to less than one ton per acre—followed by a warm summer. The result is a super concentrated Monte Bello that hasn't even reached its plateau of maturity yet. Choosing between this and the formidable 1995 will always be a challenge, but I suspect the 1996 has the greater upside. The blend consists of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot and 9% Petit Verdot, attaining 13.2% alcohol.
The 1996 Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Bello (80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, and 9% Petit Verdot that reached 13.4% alcohol) represents a severe selection of only 40% of the vineyard's crop. A blockbuster, powerful, concentrated Monte Bello, it possesses an opaque purple color, plenty of spicy oak in the nose (100% American oak has always been used for aging Monte Bello), and a deep, layered, concentrated style. There is plenty of tannin, but it is sweeter than that found in the 1997, and the wine is more concentrated and extracted. There is a touch of oak in the flavors, which are otherwise dominated by minerals and jammy black fruits. This is a terrific Monte Bello that will have 30+ years of life.