Reflecting on the 2007 Monte Bello, Eric Baugher describes the year as "a vintage that almost didn't happen." Until the eve of harvest, everything was going well, with a large crop ripening in balmy conditions. In late September, however, cold weather retarded ripening, with wet and wintry October weather only relenting on the 23rd, when temperatures returned to the high 80s. Due to such extended hang time, seeds were hard and woody, so it was difficult to extract much tannin, but that tannin was of very high quality. Today, the wine is beginning to show superbly, wafting from the glass with a lavish, creamy bouquet of crème de cassis, ripe plums, blackberries, black truffle and loamy soil. On the palate, it's full-bodied, fleshy and expansive, its generous core of fruit framed by rich, melting tannins and underpinned by the freshness and energy that this site always seems to capture. As it approaches age 11, the 2007 is an elegantly voluptuous vintage of Monte Bello that bears analogies with the lovely 1991. The blend is 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 9% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc, and it attained 13.1% natural alcohol and was cropped at around two tons per acre.
A retaste of the flagship wine, the 2007 Monte Bello (a blend from this famous estate of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 9% Petit Verdot, and 2% Cabernet Franc) reveals a dense ruby/purple wine with a floral, blueberry, and earthy cassis nose and elegant mid-weight flavors with impressive purity and classicism. There is good acidity, firm tannin, and modest alcohol (13.1%). This is not the most concentrated or powerful Monte Bello, but one built on finesse and elegance. According to the back label, only 41% of the production made it into this wine from the 103-acre estate vineyard. Give this wine another good 5-7 years of bottle age and drink it over the following 20-25 years.
($145; 79% cabernet sauvignon, 10% merlot, 9% petit verdot and 2% cabernet franc) Opaque ruby. A complex, heady bouquet displays red- and blackcurrant, pipe tobacco, cigar box and rose oil, with suave spiciness gaining strength in the glass. Sappy and sweet, with mineral-laced red and dark berry preserve and cherry-vanilla flavors complemented by smoke and floral pastille qualities. The finish shows sweetness as well as tanginess and leaves a gentle smoky quality behind. Quite open-knit for Monte Bello but there's a core of minerality and sneaky acidity here that bodes well for aging. This was aged in 100% new oak, 96% of it American.
Ripe nose but very convincing build with all the building blocks in place. Chewy still but great vibrancy. Acidity much more marked than in most California Cabs.