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 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