1994 Monte Bello: Tasting Notes, Tasting Stories …

Cellarable wines in the middle years of their developmental trajectory can be funny things.

Often, they seem to come in and out of focus right before your eyes.

When they coalesce around a profile, they can be marvelous, and you find yourself turning to them again and again, calling on them for every visit, every tasting, every presentation.

And this can be a great thing; a personal oeno-Mardi Gras celebrating a single offering.

But the downside of this can be that other vintages might fall through the cracks; shelved at one time for being comparatively out of focus, they linger in the shadows –developing, but unnoticed– waiting for their chance to surprise and delight.

Fortunately, at Ridge, we like to taste our library wines regularly, and with great satisfaction. It’s a pleasure, but more than that, we consider it a service to our supporters; the loyalists who have these wines in their cellars, waiting for that moment when the stars align around an opportunity to open, to celebrate, to share. We consider our tastings your opportunity to find out more about where your wines are; how they’re doing, how they’re feeling, how they’re families are.

So we try and not let wines slip through our cracks. But they do. They still do. Sometimes. We get over-excited about the one, and forget to remember the other.

Just such a thing happened with the 1995 and 1994 vintages of the Monte Bello. We had waited SO LONG for the ’95 to make a move, that when it finally did, we couldn’t see anything else. It was all 1995, all the time, everywhere, on every palate, in every glass. And truth be told, we still feel that way. That’s why we’re now giving YOU the opportunity to try this wine IN OUR TASTING ROOMS right now! But more on that elsewhere.

The point is, we finally realized we were being a bit obsessive about the ’95, and so we looked around. And there, in the corner, humbly awaiting attention like a puppy at the pound, was the 1994. The formerly angular, adolescent, awkward, strangely structured, weirdly disharmonious 1994. Shelved in a rough stage, and somehow temporarily forgotten, we brought it up like a galleon from the bottom of the sea; drew out its cork, and sampled its elixir as if it contained the secrets of another age.

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And it did. What a beautiful showing! What an absolutely beautiful showing from this wine! Gone is the disjointedness, the granular tanninity, the achingly brash acidity, and in their places, warm fruit, complex spice, playful aromatics and serious structure … and most notably, the positively entrancing pas de deaux of dark anise herbality and supremely pretty acid. This is indeed a serious wine, with a complicated structure and an unusual interweave of components, but experienced in its harmonious entirety, it is as delicious as it is provocative; you’ll likely be just as likely to pull out a pen and paper as you will to pull closer another piece of olive-oil-dipped bread. And for the prettiness alone, you’ll linger. And linger. And linger.

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As noted in a previous tasting, this is a wine I KNOW we’re going to be seeing a great deal more of in the very near future!



Categories: Bordeaux varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon, History, Monte Bello, Special Offerings, Tasting Events/Opportunities, Tasting Notes, Tasting Rooms, Varietals & Blends, Vintage Wine Labels, Viticultural Salmagundi

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