Ridge Monte Bello Chardonnay 2004

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While I like to focus on wines currently available in the market, after drinking an aged bottle of Ridge’s top Chardonnay from my cellar I felt compelled to share my impressions.

California Chardonnay, once all the fashion, is now much maligned. Most of us know the story and now the majority of casual drinkers are ABC and averse to ‘oak’. Of course those old style crowd pleasing chards fundamentally misunderstood the nature of Chardonnay, just as oak-phobes miss out on some of the greatest white wines in the world.

I’m not here to tell you that all California Chardonnay should be reconsidered. But the state does have a few choice sites that produce wines to rival the great whites of Burgundy. Ridge’s Monte Bello Chardonnay is such a wine. This is massal selected old clone material grown at high altitude in one of the greatest vineyards in the United States – a combination you don’t find often in California.

At eight years of age, this wine is now peaking as it pours a golden sunset yellow and offers a nose of such opulent complexity that you would not be wrong to think aged Meursault. Hazlenuts, minerals, white flowers and a textural completeness perfect this wine – which sings with a fully harmonious 14.7% ABV. I have no doubt this is amongst the very best examples in the state, and a subsequent discussion with John Clerides from Marquis confirmed that Monte Bello sits amongst the very best along with Mayacamas, Tor, Kongsgaard, and Montelena.

In conclusion, this wine has convinced me to make a few carefully selected additions of California Chardonnay to my cellar.

$75 at BCLDB (purchased 4 years ago)


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