Wine Advocate 93 points - The 2011 Monte Bello (87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc) emerges from the glass with tobacco, grilled herbs, smoke, incense and plums melding together in this soft, beautifully textured Monte Bello. The 2011 is a wine of exceptional textural finesse. The 100% new oak is totally integrated. In 2011, Ridge used a total of 18 of a possible 24 lots for the final blend. The presence of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon is the highest since the 1980s. I expect the 2011 to be a relatively early drinking Monte Bello, but time will be the judge. Anticipated maturity: 2018-2031. (Aug 2012)
The Monte Bello (originally Monte Bello Cabernet; until 1975, 100% cabernet) is the wine that introduced Ridge to the world, and the world to Ridge. It is a blend of bordeaux varietals. Cabernet sauvignon still predominates; exhaustive tasting of test blends during assemblage determines how much — if any — merlot, petit verdot, or cabernet franc will be included in the finished wine. Almost every vintage (an unbroken chain from `62 on) has something substantive to recommend it. Every decade has its high points. Taste and opinions differ. But the just-concluded decade of the nineties has been outstanding. Generalization does a disservice to the individual wines. There`s structure, there`s complexity, there`s balance. And they develop for a long, long time.