It seems appropriate to me that this venture begins with comment on my most recent visit to Monte Bello Ridge. This will, no doubt, be a recurring feature on this site.
2008 Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains Estate 100% Chardonnay 14.4%alc $40 Pretty pale bronze color - mineral driven, wet creek stone aromatics - lovely forward fruit, mostly white stone fruit flavors - broadening mouthfeel, bright acids, clean finish - more forward drinkability than previous editions, likely a function of the vintage, I think. You can take it home for dinner tonight - an elegant and most pleasurable wine. 2008 Geyserville 72% Zinfandel 20% Carignan 6% Petite Sirah 2% Mataro 14.8%alc $35 20% new oak Deep ruby color - shy purple plum aromas with hints of spice - smooth and bright on the palate with mouth coating texture and a long finish - may evolve into a classic Geezer - needs time. 2005 Grenache Lytton Estate 88% Grenache 6% Petite Sirah 6% Zinfandel 14.6%alc $28 ATP Ripely sweet and bright red stone fruit aromatics - friendly entry with smartly refreshing acids - rather pretty and fun to drink - becomes noticeably more integrated with time and air. 2006 Grenache/Syrah Lytton Estate 50% Grenache 50% Syrah 14.8%alc 44 barrels produced $28 ATP Dense garnet color - Syrah predominates in the nose with meaty overtones - the flavors follow the aromatics with the Grenache tempering what would otherwise be a monster Syrah - still rather tannic - will easily improve for 5 years, probably more. 2007 Cabernet Santa Cruz Mountains Estate 58% Cabernet Sauvignon 42% Merlot 13.3%alc $40 Beautiful primary Cabernet and plummy Merlot aromas with a nuance of heady perfume - smooth, smooth entry with palate coating texture - a real beauty - fabulous now, but should evolve into something equally, yet differently wonderful. Available discounted in the retail market and a true value. 2007 Monte Bello 79% Cabernet Sauvignon 10% Merlot 9% Petite Verdot 2% Cabernet Franc 13.1%alc 213 tons from 103 acres 41% selected for this wine $145 Bright, rich and ripe fruit aromas with just a hint of dusty minerality - rich and full on the palate with wonderful presence and balance - will become a classic Monte Bello. Eric Baugher suggests 10-20 years in the cellar for full development - should go 30 or more. The "physiologically ripe" wonks should taste these two offerings - both at well below 14% alcohol - they answer, most eloquently, the rationale offered by some of the oak juice syrup producers. 1996 Petite Sirah Geyserville 100% Petite Sirah 14.5%alc 31 barrels produced ATP A one time only wine from a warm vintage that produced enough of the varietal of high enough quality to warrant a separate bottling. Deep and dark in the glass with dusty black stone fruit aromas - rich and flavorful in the mouth with not insignificant tannins on the back end that creep forward on the palate as the wine airs. A fascinating counterpoint to the many PS from York Creek, this offering needs at least another decade (at least two for my palate) to show the marvelous potential of the variety when grown and vinted by the right hands. One of the little noticed ATP gems. califusa