Friday 28 June 2013

Lunch Tasting With Paul Draper & Six Vintages of Monte Bello

Yet again, VinUnic arranged a stunning lunch, this time with legend Paul Draper from Ridge present. He is now doing his 44th year at Ridge - that´s impressive! And what about the the stunning Monte Bello´s he have crafted during those years - my fondest memories are of the 1984, 1985 and 1991, so far...
It was a pure joy listening to Paul Draper and his wine making philosophy.
There are tons of info on the net about Ridge and Paul Draper - here are a few: Vintomas and Puttes Vinspalt (both in Swedish), A Ridge Blog, From Wikipedia, and of course Ridge.

More impressions here and here.

2005 Cristal (magnum)
I felt like a hip hop star, sipping Cristal from magnums...but I´m not complaining (even though I would rather have my arms and legs chopped of than have anything to do with hip hop).
Anyway, this bubbly has a fresh, elegant nose with notes of  grapefruit, melon, yellow pears, elderberries and freshly washed clothes drying in the wind. Very fine.
The taste is clean as a whistle with notes of grapefruit, grass, lemon cream and lots of minerals. Medium long and fresh. Very, very good although I have had better vintages of Cristal.
92p   (tasted 2013/06)

2011 Ridge Estate Chardonnay
A fine, deep, buttery nose with lots of nerve and spice. It has an fine balance and lovely notes of passion fruits, summer flowers, warm grass and smoke. A fine depth.
The taste is big and juicy but with a lot of interest and structure. Sweet notes of melon, lemon cream, summer flowers and cap gun smoke. A fine acidity that shows itself in the finish. A very creamy texture. Really fine.
91p   (tasted 2013/06)

2011 Ridge Lytton Springs
A warm, upfront, nice nose with notes of sweet blueberries, christmas spices, bonfire, dark butter biscuits and allspice. Nice enough but without real character.
The taste is warm, spicy and good with lots of blueberry and blackberry fruit with some earthy notes tossed in. Nice but lacks precision and focus. 82% Zinfandel, 16% Petite Sirah, 2% Carignane.
85p   (tasted 2013/06)

2011 Ridge Geyserville
The Geyserville have what the Lytton Spring is missing - character. The nose is warm, deep and with extra dimensions in the form of a delicious blueberry pie, bonfire, lingonberries bushes and warm earth. Very good.
The taste is tight, warm and smooth with notes of allspice sprinkled blueberries, bonfire, hot earth and a touch of vanilla pods. Very pure. The finish is long and warm. Would love to drink this in 5-8 years time. 78% Zinfandel, 16% Carignane, 4% Petite Sirah, 1% Alicante Bouschet, 1% Mataro.
90p   (tasted 2013/06)

2001 Ridge Geyserville
This has gone to far - a big, overripe, burned nose with notes of black raisins, bonfire, masonite and figs. Too hot, too unfocused, too dry. There is some depth, but this doesn´t please me.
The taste confirms the dryness, it is big, warm and unbalanced with dried blueberries, raisins and hot earth. The tannins dries the mouth out in the finish. It reminds me of an mature, unbalanced, hot Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Not my cup of tea. 74% Zinfandel, 18% Carignane, 8% Petit Shiraz.
71p   (tasted 2013/06)

2010 Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
A young, fresh, promising nose with upfront notes of ripe black currants, coffee powder, leather and some stables in a distance. Cool and fine.
The taste is tight, pure and gratifying with notes of fresh blueberries, black currant leaves, dark chocolate and cold coffee. A medium long, fine finish. This is a fine drinking Cabernet and for 38 Euro it is well worth the money.
91p   (tasted 2013/06)

2012 Ridge Monte Bello
This barrel sample has an immensely deep, tight and focused nose with gorgeous notes of sweet black currants, blueberries, graphite, ginger and hyacinths. Very elegant. This is very, very promising.
The taste is young, concentrated and intense with beautiful black currant fruit with notes of lead pencil, new leather and sugared coffe tossed in. The finish is long and impressive. This will be a beauty. Since it is not bottled yet, my score gets a question mark.
94p?   (tasted 2013/06)

2011 Ridge Monte Bello
A deep, tight, fresh nose with notes of sweet black currants, cigarette ashes, graphite and a gorgeous floral note. After some air a refined perfumed note emerges. Stunning!
The taste is pure, tight and young with notes of black currant and blueberry pie, warm tiles, coffee and sweet minerals. Very long and structured. Great stuff.
93p   (tasted 2013/06)

2009 Ridge Monte Bello
The 2009 vintage is a stunner! The nose that greats you is deep, powerful yet elegant with gorgeous notes of ripe black currants, warm earth, new leather and that same perfumed note as in the 2011, but this time even better. Just lovely!
The taste is tight, intense and concentrated with notes of blueberries, black currants, dark chocolate, coffee beans and hyacinth. Pure, cool and complex. Very, very long. A beautiful wine.
72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot.
95p   (tasted 2013/06)

2006 Ridge Monte Bello
The 2006 has a warmer structure and is more "jammy", although one thing you can´t associate with Ridge is really jammy wines. Sweet notes of blueberry pie, dark fudge, hot earth and a touch of mint. Very good but not in the league of the others.
The taste is big, warm and yummy  with notes of sweet blueberries, dark chocolate, sugared coffee and hot earth. The finish is long, warm and intense. There is a touch of alcohol warmth in the end of the finish. A really good wine all the same, it just have some serious competition...
68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc.
89p   (tasted 2013/06)

2005 Ridge Monte Bello
Like this show stopper, the best of the bunch. The nose is a revelation with its gorgeous black currants fruit intermingled with notes of cranberries, Valrhona chocolate (64%!), cigarette ashes, some autumn leaves and sweet coffee. Bottomless deep and hauntingly beautiful.
The taste is tight, intense and flat out marvellous with notes of ripe black currants, graphite, chocolate truffles, autumn leaves and lots and lots of sweet minerals. This gorgeous creature combines balance, power, structure and hedonism. I must get me some of this...
70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc.
97p   (tasted 2013/06)

2004 Ridge Monte Bello
I was looking forward to this vintage but there was something wrong with the bottle that was poured at our table - hot, almost cooked flavours and very, very dry in the mouth. At the next the table their bottle was corked. Too bad.
Not rated   (tasted 2013/06)


  1. Nice writeup.
    As to Cristal (Roederer has the same Swedish importer as Ridge), perhaps this now seven years old incident will make you feel better about drinking it, if you're one of those who actually prefer music to hip hop :-)

    1. What to say...."ludicrous" seems to be proper expression...

      I´ll go to the master here -