Opulent mountain fruit and age-worthy tannins make this a clear winner for discerning collectors. Of the California reds in the famed judgment of Paris, Ridge Vineyards came in second only to Stag’s Leap, and they’ve clearly not missed a beat since. The 2016 brings an incredible purity and balance even in its youth, and promises to meet the coming decades with unbeatable class and layers upon layers of flavor.
Destined to rank as one of the all-time greats from Ridge, the 2017 Monte Bello opens in the glass with youthfully complex notes of ripe plums, cassis, espresso roast and black truffles, with little apparent trace of its time in 100% new oak. On the palate, it's full-bodied and incredibly concentrated, with a rich, layered mid-palate and immense substance that marks it out as the most richly tannic Monte Bello since 2013. As ever, the acids are vibrant, with a classic pH of around 3.5—notably lower than most Cabernet Sauvignons from contemporary Bordeaux or Napa Valley, thanks to this site's limestone soils and high altitude. At the time of writing, the blend is 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Petit Verdot, 6% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc, though that may change by the time it's bottled. Eric Baugher observes that fermentations were slow in 2017, which protracted the period of extraction, partially accounting for this vintage's power. It's still a baby, but this is a strong contender for a perfect score when it's bottled in over a year's time—and it should see out its 50th birthday in style.