This Saturday we are very pleased to be hosting a wonderful event, our Monte Bello Assemblage Tasting, during which we’ll be pouring not only the current assemblage of the 2009 Monte Bello (slated for release in 2012) and the 2006 Monte Bello Chardonnay (recently awarded 95 points by Wine Spectator!), but also an extraordinary trio of back-vintage Monte Bellos as part of our ongoing Monte Bello Half-Bottle Showcase Series (you can read about the previous edition here).
This time around, we’ll be pouring the 1990, 1992, and 1994 Monte Bellos from 375 ml bottles, offering an unparalleled point-of-entry into the mysteries and majesties of ageable wines and their bottle-format-specific maturation rates. (My current tasting notes are below.)
On hand to host this fine event, in addition to our lovely Tasting Room Staffers, will be members of our Production Team, including Paul Draper himself, alongside our celebrated Vice President of Vineyard Operations David Gates, and Shun Ishikubo, our Assistant Production Manager.
As to event specs, here’s the gist: the event is $30/person for the general public, $15/person for members of our ATP and ZList programs, and complimentary to Monte Bello Collector members(+1 guest per membership). For our non-member guests, the event fee will be refunded to those who join the Monte Bello Collector futures program the day of the event, and for our ATP and Zlist members, the $15 event fee will be applied to any Monte Bello purchased in the Tasting Room. (For more details about this event, please click here.)
And now, on to some tasting notes!
1990 Monte Bello (375 ml)
Deep crimson in the glass, with a vivid cranberry-salmon limn, showing medium-light viscosity in the legs — rustic aromatics, rich with plum succulence and forest-floor herbality and earth — incredibly supple point-of-entry, with astonishingly youthful acidity and utterly seamless tannins — hints of raspberry and plum mid-palate, with some cassis and tobacco interwoven throughout the palate spread –a lingering woodsiness redolent of sweet pipe tobacco wraps around the core of meaty stew, concentrated broth, and dried fruits that makes up the elegantly weighted finish, as the mineral-driven chalkiness of the integrated tannins lays languidly across the tongue — remarkably intact for a 20-year half-bottle, and absolutely ready to drink, with no signs of degradation, only the fine emergence of secondary and tertiary maturation characteristics.
1992 Monte Bello (375 ml)
Gorgeous cherry hues sparkle in the bowl; deep, almost black cherry in the belly, widening out to a bright red cherry limn; notably adhesive viscosity in the legs — deep, dark aromatics, rich with cocoa, chocolate liquor, graphite, and black and blue berries — big, round, warm, and supple at point-of-entry, showing itself as a plush and fleshy Monte Bello right away — tannins are finely ground and well-integrated, though they definitely dominate the acidity, which takes a comparatively restrained role in the construct — Sweet and decadent fruit notes are tremendously expressive mid-palate, though without being cloying or overtly grandiose; raspberry and blackberry characteristics dominate, in that way of exhibiting both sweet fruit and woodsy seed notes — the finish is singularly mouth-coating, and the teeth-to-inner-lip tannins established at point-of-entry are still swelling in intensity at this point — the finish is long and warm, and exceedingly decadent. While certainly drinkable now, and despite the reserved intensity of the acidity, the sheer opulence of the fruit suggests this is still developing and maturing.
1994 Monte Bello (375 ml)
Black to red plum hues display brilliantly in the bowl, moving from dark to light from belly to limn, with quick-moving legs bespeaking an elegant body-weight on the palate — wildly exotic aromatics that, while almost bordering on funky, at the same time exhibit utterly archetypal old-world cab characteristics; anise, currant, tobacco, campfire wood and smoke, mint, coffee, fleshy black olives, and a multiplicity of black fruits, in particular — pointed without being austere, structured without being clumsy, the beams-and-girders are front-and-center at point-of-entry, while a horde of cocoa-powder-dusted and dark-chocolate-covered fruits await their turn mid-palate — acid and tannin are perfectly balanced throughout, and the finish, while shorter than some vintages, is seamlessly palate-coating and completely devoid of both inappropriately angular distractions and short-changing hollownesses — in short, rich, complex, fully saturated, and if anything, still young, though very, very drinkable now as well.