Wednesday, October 27, 2010

2007 Montebello from Ridge

There are two things that always surprise me with Montebello. First it’s almost always a very nice wine to drink young, if you're able to decant it a good hour before serving it. I guess that’s because the ripe but never overripe fruit creates a great body to balance the firm but ripe tannins. Secondly there's very few wines that can swallow 100 percent new American oak without being overly sweet and flavored with coconut and vanilla. Again, I guess it’s the body that takes care of these flavors, and that our senses will focus much more on the overall balance and the depths of the flavors, rather than just the oak.
The Montebello from Ridge is a true Californian classic, a Cabernet Sauvignon based blend that since its first vintage 1962 has proven to be a very long lived wine. The legendary winemaker Paul Draper once told me he was impressed and inspired by some century old red wines from Bordeaux, and then decided to try to make wines with the same capacity. Perhaps he found a way to do that – even the older vintages of Montebello seems to hold together very well. Not even the 1984 Montebello I poured in a 1984 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon tasting last year showed any sign of being old, not even fully mature!

2007 Montebello / 95 p
It is important to mention, that the wine was tasted after four hours of decanting, and then tasted in a big Riedel Bordeaux glass. This is the proper way to enjoy a young Montebello. It’s still very young, dense and dark and almost opaque. The nose is loaded with dark and ripe black currant and cherry fruit, still youthful and far from being developed or even open. It’s only with experience of wines such as this one can predict or at least imagine what will come out of it when the wines reach its first stage of maturity. I mentioned that the oak always is extremely well integrated, and it is. However, you’ll find some sweet vanilla notes as well a just a spicy touch of the oak, and I guess these notes will be absorbed by the fruit in some years as the wine opens up. On the palate, its intense and youthfully sweet but marked with a huge structure of (ripe) tannins and mineral.
This vintage is a blend of 79 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, ten percent Merlot, nine percent Petit Verdot and just two percent of Cabernet Franc. Grapes are harvested at approximately 24 Brix, which explains the moderate alcohol lever, only 13.1 percent by volume. “Any alcohol lever higher than that is by intention”, says winemaker Paul Draper and adds that hign alcohol has nothing to do with global warming, or the California sunshine and warm climate.
Vinification I simple, fully destemmed grapes, about ten days of natural yeast fermentation and maceration, followed by 18 months in completely new American oak barrels. The wines is then clarified with egg whites, then bottled.
Even though it tastes pretty good already today, wines like this always gains finesse and complexity with age, and it would be a kind of waist to pop the cork now. Be patient and you’ll be rewarded big time.
Drink it 2015-2035, or even later!

No comments:

Post a Comment