Monte Bello Collector Component Tasting Event: The 4488 Wrap!

Monte Bello Noir?

It was a dark and stormy night.

Except it wasn’t.

What it actually was, was a warm and sunny morning, with the low sun casting rays through the gauze of morning haze that lightly veiled the vineyards as I walked down towards the Old Torre Family Barn …

We couldn’t have asked for a better day, and the wine gods were smiling.

At that moment, with the mountain sounds closed to all but the gossip of birds and the rustle of the breezes betwixt the gentle crop-cover tendrils, it was hard to believe how many people would soon be joining us for the Monte Bello Collector Component Tasting…

But the lure of a tasting this unique is strong. Taste, grasshopper, the wine is good …

Or should I say, grasshoppers …

In addition to the beauty of the location, the deliciousness of the culinary offerings, and the singular caliber and exclusivity of the wines, one of the greatest appeals of this event is the opportunity to engage with members of our production team. Winemaker Eric Baugher, seen here with Kim Korupp (most excellent Monte Bello Retail Sales & Hospitality staffer), is a legendarily generous host …

…to whom guests come in droves, notebooks and pens in hand.

We were particularly pleased this year to have a new member of the production team join us for the Component Event festivities. He is Kyle Theriot, and he is now our Monte Bello viticulturist, and this was his very first Collector event as a host!

In addition to the excitement generated around the opportunity to taste barrel samples of the Monte Bello components prior to final assemblage …

… The event is also a great way to enjoy some of the finest of Northern California’s culinary offerings. Each year, we choose three of our fave producers, and we feature their wares at all three Monte Bello Collector Events. This year, Gayle’s Bakery in Capitola provided our breads, Cowgirl Creamery provided our cheeses, and Daniel Cote and the team at The Chef’s Chateau provided the charcuterie …

For the carnivores amongst ye, ye might wish to note that the salami was actually made with Monte Bello, and the pâté is topped with dried cherries re-hydrated with Geyserville Essence. I’m just sayin …

Anyhow, as the day progressed, it only became ever more incomparably beautiful …

There is nothing quite like the sparkle of Monte Bello sun on a Riedel wine glass …

It even brings a smile to the faces of our hard-working staff. For example, even though most excellent host Jenny Merit will likely be suffering wine-pourer’s elbow by the end of the day, her spirit remains simply irrepressible …

Something about the wines, perhaps …

The barn that is the locational epicenter of the event was built at the turn of the century by the Torre family; it was their winery, and the first 8 vintages of Ridge were made there as well. It’s a great space to begin with, and tasting within those hallowed walls definitely goes a long way towards helping one deeply internalize the historical narrative of our wines, and the story of our lands …

In a temporary lull, you’ll see it come across the faces of our staff; the depth of it all, the weight, the history, the story. Peter Yaninek is just as krinkly-eyed and kindly a host as one could ever hope for (and deeply knowledgeable and passionate as well!), and as euphorically reverential a viticultural mendicant as anyone who’s ever strode the mountain or lifted a bottle of Ridge, but in the temporary quiet of a non-pouring moment, the gravitas returns …

While the tenets of Responsible Hospitality mandate a mitigated, modulated, and controlled dispensation of tastes, with nothing left to chance as regards the precision of the pours …

… nothing can in fact diminish the enthusiasm with which those tastes are enjoyed. Take winemaker Eric Baugher, for example; he’s not just an employee, he’s a fan!

And he’s not the only one …

(if you look closely in the pic above, you can spot the host of the very great Stay Rad Wine Blog!)

(And above is Assistant Winemaker Shun Ishikubo, talkin’ shop with none other than The Pepper Man!)

Why, even Mark Vernon, the President of Ridge Vineyards, got in on the act! He’s not just the President, he’s a fan!

While the Old Torre Winery Barn was certainly the locational epicenter of the event (courtesy of our pouring not only the four components, but also the 2011 Monte Bello First Assemblage AND the soon-to-be-released 2009 Monte Bello!), the Monte Bello Tasting Room was certainly a hot bed of oeno-activity as well …

After all, legendary Monte Bello staffer Barry Campbell was pouring the 2006 Monte Bello down there, not to mention the VERY RARE 2009 Historic Vineyard Series Klein Cabernet … they’s was linin’ up, they was!

And don’t forget the picnic area! Heaven forfend if you forget the picnic area. That’s where the serious collectors go, the salty and sage veterans of the Monte Bello wars …

 

The picnic area is where THEY go to share the treasurable niceties from their own hidden vaults … Oat Valley Carignane, anyone?

One of the true stars of the whole show, of course, is our head winemaker, Paul Draper, who, despite having been in these viticultural trenches for over 40 years, still delights in chatting with guests about all things wine, and all things Ridge …

And when he and Eric both go side-by-side?

Magic. That’s a lot of palate magic right there …

And don’t get me started about David Gates! Being our Vineyard Manager (i.e. a farmer!) it’s a tad rarer that we get him INSIDE the barn, but anyone who’s ever tasted with David knows he’s just astonishingly charming, brilliant, knowledgeable, charismatic, and flat-out entertaining. Here he is, running it down for very well-regarded wine-blogger Martin Redmond (he of http://enofylzwineblog.com/) …

The sun is shining, the weather is sweet, yeah, makes you want to move those dancing feet

Or, just sit, and not do much of anything. Just drink wine, feel happy, relax …

And if all I’ve said to date hasn’t sold ya, just dig this cat (and note the vintage Day In the Vineyard shirt!) …

Dig it Les! Just dig it …

And to you all, I thank you all! Thank you all, on behalf of us all! This is such a special event for us, and we treasure the time we spend with you. Come back next time, it’s going to be oh so fun again …



Categories: Bordeaux varietals, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignane, Events & Photographs, Food & Wine Pairing, History, Monte Bello, Paul Draper, Petit Verdot, RIDGE Staff, Social Media, Special Offerings, Tasting Flights, Tasting Rooms, Varietals & Blends, Vineyards and Oenology, Viticultural Salmagundi, Wine & Food Pairing, Wine Blogs, Wine Clubs, Wine Tales, Winemaking

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7 replies

  1. Congratulations on this very successful event!

  2. Thanks for the kind words and the shout out! You’re a sly one! And yes David is a fascinating guy to talk to! He was running down why the Petit Verdot didn’t make the cut for the 2011 Monte Bello….

  3. Barn and wine.. What a winning pair… ^^

  4. Loved every second and every sip! The Pepper Man too…

  5. Chris, the first few words I saw in this post, reminded me of a poem may father told me, a very long time ago. It went

    ‘T’was a dark and stormy night,
    Two men were stood on a bridge;
    One turned to the other and said
    Friend, Tell me a tale
    And this is the tale he told.

    ‘T’was a dark and stormy night,
    Two men were stood on a bridge;
    One turned to the other and said
    Friend, Tell me a tale
    And this is the tale he told.

    ‘T’was a dark and stormy night,
    Two men were stood on a bridge;
    One turned to the other and said
    Friend, Tell me a tale
    And this is the tale he told.

    (You can repeat this as often as you can get away with it)

    Sadly, my father never got beyond the second verse as by then, he would be doubled up laughing..

    I must admit it, I was affected by what followed your second line, but only by envy, jealousy and gratitude!

    If I cannot be there – and I am 6000 miles away – what better than to get a pictorial like this?

    Many thanks
    Tom
    ps Wikipedia credits an English Victorian novelist, Sir Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton, with first using the phrase “It was a dark and stormy night” How appropriate !!!

  6. A belated happy birthday to Paul for Saturday. Looks like you all had a blast!

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