Another trip up Monte Bello Road on a beautiful spring Sunday morning, albeit unseasonably chilly thanks to some cold Alaskan air that has been visiting us recently. The vines are flowering, as are the California poppies, and the air was clear giving great views all across the valley.
But we didn't just come here to admire the views. Last weekend was the final assemblage tasting for the 2009 Monte Bello, as well as an opportunity to taste a few older vintages.
2008 Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains
Citrus, vanilla, mineral and some fig on the nose. Nice rounded mouthfeel; creamy lemon and wet stone with a toasty finish. I still say this needs 3-5 years. 91+
1990 Monte Bello
Poured from a 375ml bottle. The colour was brick red; the nose was much more mature than I'd have expected from such a strong vintage - mushrooms, leather and a little dried fruit. On the palate it had tart berry flavours, earthy leather and a hint of dill pickle. I'd consider it past its peak. 88
1992 Monte Bello
Also poured from a 375ml bottle. Quite a contrast to the 1990; the nose had plenty of smooth red berry fruit and fresh earth. On the palate everything was integrated; still some good tannins, plenty of fruit, with leather, tart cranberry and herbal notes. Drinking well, but will continue to develop. 92
1995 Monte Bello
This was poured from a 750ml bottle. Lots of black fruit and some eucalyptus on the nose. In the mouth there's loads of rich fruit and bags of tannin; it's still very youthful. Pleasant now, but some way from its zenith. 93
2009 Monte Bello, barrel sample
The final blend is 71% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot and 7% Petit Verdot.
The colour is a deep red/black. The Petit Verdot seems to dominate the nose with its floral, violet notes, and some fresh bread. Stacks of rich sweet fruit; bramble, currant, graphite, with a dry herbal finish. Lots of potential; another clear winner. 94-96
2007 Santa Cruz Mountains
The nose has a nice balance of herbal and fruit notes. Good fruit - tart black cherry, brambles and blackcurrant with a herbal finish. Good value. 92+
2006 Monte Bello
I've had this a few times recently; it never disappoints. The nose is enticing with lots of smoky black fruit; on the palate it's rich and rather concentrated, with loads of blackcurrant and brambly fruit, and a good long finish. 94
We then had a picnic and opened some interesting older bottles:
Mature nose, leather and musty. Still has good fruit; raspberry, cranberry, lots of leather. 91
1994 Lytton Estate
Tart berry and light leather notes. Rich sweet raspberry candy, tobacco and wood. 91
1986 Monte Bello
Mature vegetal, rather stinky nose. But on the palate there's sweet fruit and plenty of it, along with earth and leather. 92