The 2013 Monte Bello, our 51st vintage, has been released! Every August is an exciting time for all at Ridge. It’s the moment we finally release the latest vintage of Monte Bello to our members. Of course, if you were savvy enough to sign up for our Collector Membership, you would have already received in March, the allocation you purchased at a generous discount two years prior. It’s also a time to reflect on the magical process and effort required to create this special wine, from the day the first clusters were picked, to the day the wine is officially released almost a full three years later. That’s right, a full three years later! So much happens in between, that it’s almost too hard to believe the process from grape to bottle for Monte Bello takes that long.
The 2013 growing season saw the continuance of the ongoing California drought, which stressed the vines somewhat, but due to the ability of the vineyard’s limestone to retain moisture, the vines were still able to produce a fine crop, albeit only about 1.2a tons per acre. Loads of perfect weather in the summer and fall allowed for very even ripening as well as an early harvest that saw tiny, but concentrated berries loaded with flavor and intensity.
Putting it all together
As is always the case, Monte Bello is never a templated wine that follows some consistent recipe every year. In fact, it is quite the opposite, following instead the recipe that Mother Nature provides us on a year by year basis, as evidenced by the 2013 growing season. In 2013, drought was mostly responsible for why all parcels of merlot didn’t make the MB selection. The vines just didn’t handle the conditions that well and didn’t produce the distinct quality that we can often get from all parcels. Other years, certain varietals may simply stand out from the pack during blending trials. To illustrate even more the variability of Monte Bello’s final blend, cabernet sauvignon, for example, will sometimes make up anywhere from 64% to 88% of the wine. That’s quite a range that we’re talking about. This year’s final blend is one of the most unusual ones, with petit verdot taking the place on stage where merlot usually stands, as the next dominant varietal. When tasting the 2013, you can taste and sense that element of obvious weight and darkness contributed by the much larger percentage of petit verdot present.
Over the course of three years, many moving parts come into play in order to see this process come to fruition- the vineyard planning and management of every vine on every single vineyard parcel; the constant logistical challenges in the winery (limited tank space!); the breadth of winemaking decisions involved (like when to press); and the blending and blind tasting trials.
When all is said and done with the winemaking process, Collector Members have the exclusive opportunity through our Assemblage Events at Monte Bello, to participate in the process and taste barrel samples of the new vintage in its various stages of assemblage; separate varietal components in March, first assemblage in April, final assemblage in May. Cement your future in our futures program, by joining the Monte Bello Collector family.
Categories: Monte Bello