During a recent trip to California I had the opportunity to visit Ridge Vineyards at their Monte Bello property, just west of San Jose, in the Santa Cruz mountains. This beautiful spot at 2000′ feet of elevation, is 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean, and is the coolest California climate ideally suited for growing Bordeaux Varietals. They have unique green stone and clay soils layered over decomposing limestone. This limestone is what makes their wine so unique and distinctive from the better known areas of Napa and Sonoma as they do not have limestone.
This distinction is extremely important to Ridge because they truly believe in wines of place where their respect for the land allows the wines individuality to be expressed in the glass. Additionally, they favor natural farming, including cover crops, organic treatments, beneficial insects for pest control, and minimal water use, while eliminating chemicals. They will soon be certified organic.
They have been making their flagship wine, Monte Bello, for over 50 years. This wine is always predominately Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc varying from vintage to vintage. In tasting the 2014 vintage comprised of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot, I immediately noticed a full body and rich blackberry flavor with hints of toasted oak that takes a little time to be fully appreciated. For me the vibrant acidity is what really took hold making me want to enjoy a rib-eye steak with this delicious wine. Having said that, this is definitely a wine that can be enjoyed for years to come and I would like to open a bottle in about 10 more years.
One wine to enjoy today is the 2014 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. This 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, and 5% Cabernet Franc was an instantaneous new favorite for me. The blackberries, bright cherry notes, slight eucalyptus and earthiness on the palate along with a balanced acidity and mellow tannins make me want to enjoy this wine on a regular basis and preferably with a hearty meal of steak and potatoes.