1986 Monte Bello

Search yielded zilch about this particular MB so here goes. From a private cellar I got a few of these and just reloaded via winebid recently, very glad I did too! Good cork removed en masse with Ah-so. Great typical 1980’s MB nose with a lot of funk and maybe a iodine/medicinal whiff too? Good color, nowhere near as old looking as the 1980 MB we had last year. This was a solid MB vintage with a 47% selection listed on the back label and this bottle was a laser beam of well-mannered, dark fruit with completely integrated tannins now. Nice smooth finish of medium length. This bottle was split 3 ways and I know I would kill one myself if I pulled the cork alone - that good! EtOH just 11.8%.

Had a 2004 Nickel & Nickel Darien Syrah the next night and it was like a barrel sample compared to this Ridge!


Does the 47% selection mean only that many of the barrels made the final blend?


This is a favorite vintage of mine, too, as my hero Laube rated it 82 pts, so they show up at a pretty good price. I, too, restocked from winebid recently. I’ll be bringing a bottle to the Monte Bello assemblage tasting in a couple weeks…

Had the '80 at an '80 CA Cab retrospective and was underwhelmed (rated it 88). Need to pop my bottle sometime soon to see how it compares.

Yeah, the 1980 I had may have been the most meh MB of my life. You’ll dig your 86s Wes. We may make The Final Assemblage on Sunday?

We’ll be there Sunday @11, then picnic after tasting with some older Ridge wines. Say hi, if you spot us.

I drank my two bottles of this in 2001 and 2003. Both were bought on release and were a little underwhelming, particularly the first, which had a marked green bell note in the nose and seemed a bit faded.

My notes on the second bottle were: “Quite refined; a little vegetal with air, but lots of finesse; more like Leoville Las Case '86 and Leoville Poyferre '88 at dinner than Far Niente '90 cab.” I gave it 88 points.

Great note. Thanks for sharing.

Was the 11.8% more typical in that era? Any thoughts on what the impact of 14% levels will have on more recent vintages (especially their ability to age)?

Were you just checking in on these? Right now '96 is the youngest MB I’ll pop.

Re: 1980 – I like this vintage but understand many don’t.

I’m popping a 1994 on Monday in a 1994 Cali Cab tasting.

If we get there it will be after lunch and on my Harley.

Definitely more typical but still low, even for the 1980’s. I don’t know what the future will bring with incrementally higher alcohol levels.

Someone posted (or said?) recently that the average alcohol for Monte Bello has trended up .5% over the last 40 years. Seems lower than I’d guess, but haven’t seen a comprehensive list. Certainly, Paul doesn’t think sugar ripeness has much relevance. They pick for flavor, and put a lot of effort into maximizing the flavor and expression of the sites. I don’t think alcohol has any effect whatsoever on aging.

IQuick check of easy to reference ABV levels:
'88 - 12.9
'07 - 13.1
'06 - 13.5
'05 - 13.4
'03 - 13.2
'00 - 13.4
'99 - 13.0
'97 - 12.9
'85 - 13.1
'04 - 13.2
'02 - 13.3
'01 - 14.2
'98 - 12.4
'96 - 13.2
'95 - 12.5
'94 - 12.7
'93 - 12.9
'91 - 13.1
'92 - 13.5
'71 - 12.2

Looks like only one recent vintage topped 13.5

Btw, I think the most ready to drink of the '90s is the '99.