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Professional Ratings: 94 The Wine Advocate, 93 International Wine Cellar, 92 Wine & Spirits
Region: Santa Cruz Mountains, California
Varietal: Bordeaux Red Blends
Other Info: Collectible Wines
Style: Big & Bold
Alcohol By Volume: 13.5%
Item no. 101776
Complex mix of ripe mountain bramble, cassis, and currant fruits; dark chocolate, toasty oak, licorice, exotic spice. Full-bodied, with elegant chalky tannins, sensuous balance, integrated oak. Pure Monte Bello.
Blend: 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc
About the Vintage:
Winter was wet and cold through April, but May's warm weather let the vines set a full crop. Summer was unusually warm; picking began on September 18, ahead of schedule. Though a cool October slowed ripening, all parcels were harvested within five weeks, and natural yeasts started the primary within three days. Those first fermentations alerted us to how rapidly color and tannin were being extracted. We reduced pump-overs, and pressed at day ten. Uninoculated secondary began in tank; eighty percent of the thirty-six lots were racked to barrel for completion. Thirteen were selected for the first assemblage in late January. Four intense cabernet lots required egg-white fining to soften tannins. Additions of petit verdot and cabernet franc contributed depth. Balanced and elegant now, this exceptional vintage has the structure to carry it for twenty-five years or more.
While it is eclipsed by the brilliance of the 2005, the 2006 Monte Bello (68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, and 2% Cabernet Franc) is a very strong effort. Its dense purple color is followed by copious aromas of creme de cassis, licorice, spice box, and a touch of oak. Well-balanced, dense, pure, layered, and rich, its big, rich style is similar to the 2003. This cuvee should keep for 25-30 years in a cool cellar.
Deep, bright ruby. Spicy, high-pitched aromas of red- and blackcurrant, cherry, pipe tobacco, rose and smoky Indian spices. Firm, mineral-driven dark berry flavors are given a firm edge by bitter cherry skin and pit notes, with the tobacco note repeating. Supple tannins add structure and carry through the long, sweet, smoky finish. This is showing gentler tannins than I usually expect from a young Monte Bello and I'd bet on it being drinkable before the 2005 and 2004 versions. I also retasted the 2005 Monte Bello, which after a year in bottle is showing brighter red fruit and spicier mineral character than at this time last year, when I rated it 95 points. It's still a baby. I underestimated this wine's potential and would now rate it 95, with excellent cellaring potential. For the quality it is a steal as it can compare to any wine from the Napa Valley that sells for three or four times the money-or more!
On the quiet side of intense, this vintage of Monte Bello is austere, delivering its fruit like a cool rain of berries. As a young cabernet, the flavors of black plum, dried currants and cranberries are held tight in the grip of oak. There's also a floral scent of roses before the tannins shut it down. This should plump up with a few years in the cellar, building on its elegance to match roast leg of lamb.