Wine Of The Week: Ridge Monte Bello 2019

A California Cabernet that’s buzzing with energy and explosive fruit alongside an incredible depth of flavor and finessed tannins.

The views from the Monte Bello Estate’s visitor center, perched in the Santa Cruz Mountains. (Credit: Kate Dingwall)

Ridge Vineyards’ Monte Bello Estate is only aboout an hour from San Francisco. But the final ascent feels otherworldly. You curl up switchbacks through soft forested backroads. A pack of deer skirted past our car, then out the other window I spotted a fox running through grape vines—landscapes that seem too storybook to be true, but are unfolding before my eyes.

These scenes are partially what has made Ridge’s Monte Bello Estate so storied—you can taste the specialness of the place in the wines. Experts agree–at the 1976 Judgement of Paris—a blind showdown between French and American producers—Ridge’s Monte Bello was one of the stand-out wines. And if you take a sip today, it still is. The Cabernet Sauvignon is vibrant, buzzing with energy and explosive fruit alongside this incredible depth of flavor and finessed tannins. What makes it so special? The winemaker’s adept hand, but also the land it comes from. The crisp, high-elevation plot of land has a magical freshness to it, largely from the maritime air blowing in from the bay and up into the hills. This helps retain brightness in the wine, which will remain for decades to come. $289

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