1978RidgeMonte1978 Ridge Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon “Monte Bello” Santa Cruz Mountains.
A huge thank you going out to Ridge, they again produced an amazing lineup of wines to taste with seriously awesome customer service and humble grace, it is a true pleasure to go to Ridge and taste their wines, especially as I did yesterday, visit Lytton Springs on a warm Monday in the summer and find this gorgeous 1978 Monte Bello available to sample! This historic wine from Ridge’s cellar is still lively and full of flavor with only a hint of decay, surprising since it was a drought year and the vines were really under a lot of stress, that’s why this wine was almost all Cabernet Sauvignon at 94% with 6% Merlot, this 1978 now has similar qualities to the 1970 Chateau Latour, it really shows class and vitality with a mix of dark fruits, cedar spice, loamy earth and pipe tobacco. The vintage Monte Bello, tasted along side the 2003 and 2013 held it’s own in complexity and certainly in length and detail, there is something special about old Monte Bello, they give pleasure on a scale you’d normally see in Grand Cru Burgundy, it’s emotional and sensual and this 1978 is seductive and beautiful well on it’s way to 40 years old! The nose takes time, we tasted from a fresh un-decanted bottle, but once open it gives a sexy mix of floral notes, dried violets, roses and acacia, tea spice, sandalwood and lightly stewy plums leading to a medium/full palate that still shows a bit of nervy tannin at first before allowing a silky texture coat the mouth, subtle mineral tones, sweet cherries and savory currant to go along with fading blackberry and almost strawberry. This maybe could have been a wine to drink about 10 years ago, but it really shinned in the glass and didn’t disappoint in any way, it could survive another 5 or 7 years, but a decade more and I think it might lose it’s charm, so if you are holding this, I’d say drink it up you luck dog! The 1978 Monte Bello was big in it’s early years, and at 13.6% it was one of the most powerful, highlighting the drought years, but age has graced it with stunning balance and finesse without losing it’s sense of history or place, lingering blueberry, sage and anise add to the joy. What a glorious and fantastic treat, I’m grateful to Ridge’s Lytton team for this rare experience!
($350 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive

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