On January 20, production and vineyard teams blind-tasted the twenty-eight lots with best potential to be chosen for assemblage of the 2014 Monte Bello. Twelve lots—those showing outstanding vineyard character—were identified to make the “core blend.” On day two, we began by tasting the core blend (control), and the core blend with a 4% addition of two very small lots (petit verdot from Le Vasseur parcel, and cabernet from South Twin Peaks.) After discussion, the group voted that including them would produce a deeper, more complex wine.
We then went on to try the young cabernet franc from Rousten. By the same blind-tasting process, we decided to add it. Next, a truly classic cabernet sauvignon parcel, which has made the selection in eight out of ten years, was tried, and included for its contribution to structure and dark berry fruit. We proceeded to an excellent merlot parcel from the bottom slope of West Block (2700′ elevation). Its addition took acidity (already firm in the control) to an excessive level; tannins were exposed and dried out. It was not included. We went on to a young cabernet sauvignon parcel from Rousten, whose addition was almost unanimously agreed upon for the fullness and rich fruit it brought to the blend. Another Rousten cabernet was tried, but this addition was unsuccessful, making the wine too saturated and pushing very ripe flavors. Finally, we assessed the inclusion of the top slope West Block merlot. It moved the blend to a right-bank Bordeaux style, which certainly isn’t terrible, but the control without the addition was so much more classic Monte Bello in its left-bank style. This merlot was held out. Having selected seventeen lots, we concluded the first assemblage. That was then tasted blind—mixed in a flight that included five Monte Bello vintages, 2009 through 2013. The comparison was astonishing: this very young wine showed such elegance, and yet had a wonderfully defined structure for long-term aging. The blend now stands at 69% cabernet sauvignon, 23% merlot, 6% cabernet franc, and 2% petit verdot. Additional cabernet lots will be tasted in late April at second assemblage. If their addition makes for a Monte Bello of greater quality and complexity, we may just include them.
Paul Draper/Eric Baugher
Each year, members of our Monte Bello Collector program have an opportunity to secure futures of the new vintage and taste the early assemblage at one of our three Assemblage events held each spring at Monte Bello.
Click here for information on this years futures offer.