The 2018 Monte Bello is a wine of extraordinary finesse. Although it doesn’t have the body or overt richness of some recent vintages, it more than makes up for that with its total sense of harmony. Lavender, mocha, spice, licorice and dried flowers all develop in a sublime, refined Monte Bello that will thrill Ridge lovers. This is an especially elegant, lithe vintage for Monte Bello that is marked by a dry year with no heat spikes and a very long harvest that wrapped up in late October. 2028-2043
The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Bello comes from a cooler, even, drought year and is based on 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot, and 2% Cabernet Franc. I believe it was aged all in American oak as always (I wouldn't be surprised if there was a French barrel in there) and hit 13.7% natural alcohol. Beautiful, and classic Monte Bello, notes of plums, cassis, and blueberries all give way to more vanilla oak, tobacco, cedar pencil, and violet aromas and flavors. A more elegant, streamlined, medium to full-bodied Monte Bello, it has beautiful tannins, perfect ripeness (not overripe nor underripe), flawless balance, and a great finish. It doesn't have the sheer grandeur or dimension of the 2017, but it's a seamless, incredibly elegant, compelling Monte Bello that will benefit from 4-6 years (it's stunning today with a healthy decant) and will certainly have 30 years of prime drinking.
I tasted the 2018 Monte Bello as a finished barrel sample during the annual Ridge Monte Bello Tasting Final Assemblage event; the blend was 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 11% Petite Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc. It has a medium to deep ruby-purple color and youthfully primary nose with boysenberry, blueberry jam, blackcurrant, dark chocolate-covered cherries, cigar box, graphite, loamy earth and oodles of floral character. The palate is medium to full-bodied and packed full of flavor layers, knit by very fine, ripe, pixelated tannins and great freshness and finishing very long.