Guided by Paul Draper since 1969, Monte Bello is a model for consistency and quality in California Cabernet. The vineyard sits at elevations of 1,300 to 2,700 feet, 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean, in a rugged, rocky landscape, with vines planted in decomposing limestone soils. Yields are low, and the cool climate and distinct soil create wines of impeccable structure. Winemaker Eric Baugher blends the best parcels of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot to construct this Bordeaux-style wine, which is bolstered by 16 months in new oak. Warm years like 2012 show the best of what Monte Bello can offer.
A beautifully structured wine, with firm acidity and tannins that show grip and grit amid a core of dense, tense currant and blackberry fruit, turning juicy. Those seeking classic old-school Cabernet will embrace this. Cellaring for five to seven years is the right approach. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Best from 2020 through 2035.—James Laube
- Special Designation:
- Santa Cruz Mountains, California
- Issue Date:
- Jan. 31–Feb. 29, 2016