While our group was picnicking at the Monte Bello Assemblage Tasting in May, Sandy suggested we do a Monte Bello dinner. Julie agreed to host. Not the worst way to spend an evening. Good friends, good food, good wine.
I brought a '99 Monte Bello Chardonnay to start. Didn't take notes, but showed a huge amount of sulfur which gradually dissipated over time. Very tight and youthful. Shows good potential, so I'd like to revisit in a decade or more. But disappointing showing this night. I knew it was young, but hoped to see a bit of what I've gotten in their '90s era SCM Chards lately. Those are at their prime.
'73 Monte Bello (Santa Cruz Mountains) I took the foil off this and was cleaning off the lead dust, only to see bubbling up the side of the cork. Damn! Nose - molasses, raisin and prune. Oxidized raisin and prune. Dusty. FLAWED
'83 Cabernet Sauvignon (Santa Cruz Mountains) As noted on the back label, this was a declassified Monte Bello. Nose - green bamboo stalk and smooth black currant. Gritty, char, mature cedar, fully mature cherry-ish fruit, hint of tobacco. Fairly simple, but quite nice. 90 pts '84 Monte Bello (Santa Cruz Mountains) Nose - warm/savory, dried herb, black currant, nice mature notes. Warm charry mature black currant, touch of cedar, gritty/dusty tannin - not resolved, touches of black pepper and green peppercorn. 91 pts '86 Monte Bello (Santa Cruz Mountains) Nose - intense savory herbs, mahogany, Coca Cola, lovely aromatics. Intense herbs and tobacco, youthful black currant and smoky cherry. 93 pts
'92 Monte Bello (Santa Cruz Mountains) Nose - warm oak spiced plum, deep, soy. Deep dusty black plum, soy, firm and heavy, touches of black currant and cedar, hints of tobacco and funk. 91 pts
'96 Monte Bello (Santa Cruz Mountains) Nose - redwood, cinnamon, plum, black currant, creme brulee. Smooth redwood, plum and black currant, dusty. Still young. Some cedar and bitter lime zest on the finish. Opens up really well. 94 pts
'97 Monte Bello (Santa Cruz Mountains) Nose - deep, dark, porty black plum and red cherry, hints of redwood and eucalyptus. Black peppercorn, black plum, intense black currant, grit and sap. Needs 10+ years. 93+ pts
'98 Monte Bello (Santa Cruz Mountains) Nose - deep simple black currant, soy. Grippy, astringent, charry Merlot, flat black currant, a bit bitter, gritty/dusty tannins, some plum and tobacco. Should improve with 5-10 more years. 85++ pts (On release this showed some good structure and notes of interest, but was completely hollow. I thought it should've been declassified, and still think so. It is filling out well, so may become a pretty good wine, but nowhere near Monte Bello standards.) '01 Monte Bello (Santa Cruz Mountains) Nose - deep savory black currant, hints of ginger, molasses and redwood. Deep dark black and purple fruit, dusty tannin, black currant, char, olallieberry, rustic, smoky, lime zest, firm, minerally. 95 pts '06 Monte Bello (Santa Cruz Mountains) Nose - sweetish frosting, black plum and black cherry, delicate herbs, ginger, tarragon. Roasty toasty smooth dark fruit, black currant, elderberry, lime, hint of redwood. 94 pts
'07 Monte Bello (Santa Cruz Mountains) Nose - lovely herbs and elegant oak spices, black plum, marachino, rosemary. Lovely savory dried herbs, Pinot-like interplay, light on its feet, elegant, complex, nice black currant. 96 pts
Check out the write-ups from Richard and Dave: http://rjonwine.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/ridge-monte-bello-dinner-1973-2007/ http://scmwine.blogspot.com/2010/06/monte-bello-dinner.html