Ridge Monte Bello gained international attention in 1976 when it’s 1971 vintage placed fifth at the Judgement of Paris tasting. It was the only red wine from the USA, other than Stag’s Leap 1973, to rank in the top five.
Ridge Monte Bello’s wines have been sold En Primeur since 1984. According to former winemaker and CEO, Paul Draper, “selling Monte Bello en primeur came about totally by accident”. In a recent Vinous article, he said that “in 1984, Bordeaux had a very weak harvest. A London merchant told us the vintage did not look all that promising and asked us if we would be interested in selling Monte Bello futures. And that is how en primeur stated for Monte Bello”.
The estate’s 2017 vintage was released En Primeur earlier this month at £1,632 per 12×75.
Critical reception for this year’s Ridge Monte Bello has been positive. William Kelly (The Wine Advocate) said the wine was “destined to rank as one of the all-time greats from Ridge”. He awarded a barrel range of 98-100 points and commented that “it’s still a baby, but this is a strong contender for a perfect score when it’s bottled in over a year’s time”.
Antonio Galloni (Vinous) scored it a slightly lower 94-97 points. In his tasting note he commented that “the 2017 is embryonic and not full formed, it also clearly has the potential to develop into a truly special wine”. In a recent interview with Liv-ex, Antonio Galloni discusses the wines of California and what’s exciting him most. To read the interview, click here.
The 2017 vintage is entering the market 9% below the 100-point 2013 vintage. Should the wine achieve a perfect score once bottled, it might represent an opportunity to En Primeur buyers. The slightly lower scoring 2014 and 2016 vintages also look like attractive alternatives.