Reviews & Scores
In the drought year of 1976, the Monte Bello bottling from Ridge has turned out very well indeed, but it is a tad on the leaner side from what I imagine was a period of hydric stress when the vines would have shut down a bit. The wine eventually topped out at 12.7 percent alcohol, but this is not particularly low by Monte Bello standards, which has never been a very heady wine. The bouquet on the 1976 is now quite mature and offers up a complex blend of cassis, desiccated dark berries, cigar ash, stony soil tones, a touch of remaining tobacco leaf and just a whiff of herb tones in the upper register. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied and very soil-driven in personality, with a good, but not great core, fairly resolved tannins, good acids and a long, complex finish. There is not quite the same mid-palate amplitude of a classic vintage of Monte Bello evident in the 1976, but this wine has aged quite well and is a complete and very classy middleweight that is now at its apogee, but clearly has plenty of life remaining. Good juice.
Leading off the reds, the 1976 Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Bello was terrific and offered a Pauillac-like bouquet of black currants, lead pencil shavings, and tobacco leaf, as well as a huge amount of cedar and spice. Fully mature and drinking spectacularly well, it’s all finesse and elegance on the palate, with beautiful balance. It’s not going to get better but is a beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon that’s just a joy to drink today.
The 1976 Monte Bello is simply extraordinary, not to mention a superb example of 1970's California Cabernet Sauvignon. Nineteen seventy six was a drought year, and that very much comes through in the wine's ripeness and overall density, even after all these years. A wine of superb aromatic intensity and striking inner sweetness, the 1976 has it all. Scents of mint, licorice, tobacco and savory herbs add nuance throughout, but as is so often the case with older Monte Bellos, the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts. What a wine!
Tasted at David Pope’s Monte Bello dinner in London. This is very impressive with an engaging, fragrant wild mint and cedar nose with a touch of roasted chestnuts. The palate is very supple but well knit, vigorous with fine tannins. Medium-bodied with good acidity, very Bordeaux-like with an august, cedar finish …