Tasting Note                         

93+   1996  Ridge  Monte Bello (Santa Cruz Mtns)   12/25/13 ($75)

80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 9% Petit Verdot   13.2 % alc   
Color: Very deep garnet. No browning to speak of and no clearing. Amazing for 17. (4.0) Bouquet: Black pepper and pen ink with cassis fruit. Big, but slightly restrained, due to tannins. Very Pauillac. (3.5) Body: Outstanding structure, acidity and tannins. Excellent fruit. Heavyweight. (3.5) Flavor: Parallels bouquet, but more restrained. Significant, smooth tannins. (3.0) Finish: Musky gray clay, tannins and pen ink linger. (3.0)
Overall: Still young with solid cassis fruit in the shadows of the significant, smooth tannins. Seems like greatness waiting to happen with its fantastic structure and balance, despite the tannins. Drinks as a very solid excellent even now (decant for several hours), but needs 3-5 more years aging to be at its best. This is aging very slowly and gracefully, like a first growth Bordeaux. (17.0)

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