|U.S.A.||2014||Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Bello, Ridge Vineyards||BT||4 \ 0||48||1,900.00||12||48||211.11111066667||97.00||97.00||Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Bello, Ridge||0.75||10|
|Wines are offered subject to remaining unsold. E&OE.|
A worthy successor to the profound 2013 and the fruit of the earliest harvest on record at this address, the 2014 Monte Bello is still quite youthfully expressive, wafting from the glass with an exuberant bouquet of minty dark berries, plums, black cherries, cigar box and a nicely integrated framing of new oak. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied, deep and intense, with a rich chassis of structuring tannins, which are currently largely concealed in a succulent core of fruit, and bright balancing acids. In profile, it's structurally more open-knit and giving than the massive 2013, and I suspect it will reach its plateau sooner, but it should enjoy over three decades of longevity. The blend is 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, and it attained 13.5% natural alcohol. "The drought had a positive effect on concentration," observed winemaker Eric Baugher when we corresponded shortly after harvest, adding that "the wines are opaque in color, with rich tannins and marvellous fruit." Four years later, that remains an accurate characterization of the 2014 Monte Bello.
The 2014 Monte Bello is going to need at least a decade to show everything it has. Deceptively medium in body and super-classic in its mid-weight structure, the 2014 offers notable brightness and intensity in an understated style, even by Ridge standards. Today, the 2014 is intensely linear, focused and vibrant. Petit Verdot is the variety that suffered most in the drought, so its presence in the blend is minimal.
The 2014 Monte Bello is bright, precise and finely sculpted throughout, with a slightly more reddish leaning flavor profile than is found in some of the surrounding vintages. In 2014, Monte Bello is built on bright, pulsating acidity and energy. Relative to recent vintages such as 2012, 2013 and 2015, the 2014 is a bit compact and tightly wound. The slightly nervous style is likely to require at least a decade to be fully appreciated. In 2014, the blend is more typical of Monte Bello than the Cabernet-dominated 2013, with a greater role for Merlot and other complementary grapes. The only real issue with the 2014 is that it is sandwiched between two truly epic vintages.
Tasted from barrel, the 2014 Monte Bello comes across as super-classic and at times even a bit austere, with considerable tannin and overall intensity. Some vintages of Monte Bello can offer pleasure relatively early. The 2014 does not appear to be one of them. Today, the 2014 is extremely tannic, with inky flavors and quite a bit of underlying structure. Needless to say the 2014 is going to be fascinating to follow, as it appears to have a very bright future. I tasted the 2014 from a representative blend in barrel. Two thousand fourteen was marked by a very early bud-break and harvest. For only the second time in fifty years the Cabernet Sauvignon was brought in starting at the end of September and was done by the end of the month, whereas in a normal year, the harvest stretches to the end of October. The days were long at Ridge, as Cabernet and Zinfandel were harvested around the same time, which is quite unusual.Winemakers Paul Draper and Eric Baugher add that Cabernet Sauvignon was favored over Merlot and Petit Verdot, both of which struggled.
The 2014 Monte Bello checks in as a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and the balance Petit Verdot brought up in the standard mostly new American oak barrels. Its inky purple color is followed by a sensational perfume of crème de cassis, vanilla bean, espresso roast and violets. Much more polished and elegant than the estate Cabernet, yet with no shortage of concentration, it's a ripe, sexy, seamless Monte Bello that's going to be approachable in its youth, yet evolve for two decades or more. 2017 - 2037
Cask sample. Spicy nose. Refined and high toned, not remotely heavy. Very long. Big tannins well covered. Drink 2020-2050