94 Points – Jeb Dunnuck
92 Points – Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media
The Monte Bello vineyard, located only 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean, is part of the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA, California’s coolest cabernet producing area. The Monte Bello vineyard ranges in elevation from 400 to 800 meters above sea level and is composed of unique green stone and clay soils layered over decomposing limestone. Limestone is not found in the well-known Cabernet producing areas of Napa and Sonoma Valleys, making the soil composition at Monte Bello a unique and important contributor to the wine’s distinctive character. The combination of elevation, cool climate, and soil produces a wine that is impeccably balanced and destined for long-term aging, with firm acidity and a consistent streak of minerality.
A dry, warm, winter brought an early start to the growing season but late spring storms severely cut yields. Warm days and nights through summer ripened the grapes for a September harvest. Pump-overs, during fermentation, were reduced to maintain balanced tannins. The most sensuous lots were selected during the assemblage tasting in January. The intense fruit of this fine vintage will support further development over the next fifteen years.
Sustainably farmed, hand-harvested, estate-grown grapes; destemmed and sorted; fermented on the native yeasts; full malolactic on the naturally occurring bacteria; 0.18g/L calcium carbonate to moderate high natural acidity in four of twenty distinct parcels; minimum effective sulfur (35ppm at crush, 59 ppm during aging); pad filtered at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions. Grapes destemmed, and sorted ; 100% whole berries fermented on the native yeasts. Pressed at six days. Natural malolactic initiated in tank, finished in barrel with additional 18 weeks of lees contact.
100% air-dried american oak barrels; (45% new, 17% one year old, 38% two and three years old).
Opaque purple in color. Aromas of cassis, anise, and clove spice from barrel aging. Blackberry fruit on entry, fine grain tannins, black olive, and forest floor. A long finish.
Region: Monte Bello Vineyard, Santa Cruz
Harvest Dates: 9 September - 9 October
Grapes: Average Brix 24.2˚
First Vintage: 1962