||And tossing out another bloody pulpit:
Complexity in Wine: This was a really tough tasting to do;
not because my palate was shot or anything (it wasn't; it was fresh &
in good form.. at least as good as it ever gets!); but I'd smell &
taste down the line of wines, write down some notes, and go back &
do it again and find more & different things in the wines. I felt like
my wine vocabulary simple was the equal of these wines. And the wines seemed
to keep changing in the glass. Paul Draper always likes to state that he
seeks to make the most complex wine he possibly can from the grapes he
receives. I always seem to associate "complexity" with mature wines w/
bottle bouquet. But these wines are truly "complex" wines, even though
they are young Cabs; "complex" in every sense of the word. They're tough
to describe and they keep changing. It's sort of like trying to describe
a kinetic sculpture to someone. The wines can by big & intense, yet
still have a lot of complexity, even though they're young. It's interesting
to contrast these MonetBellos to, say, the Caymus Special Selection Cab.
That's sort of a bi-polar wine; lots of pencilly Caymus oak on one end,
and lots of intense blackcurranty/Cab fruit, with no interesting, complex
notes in between. Simple (though very good) Cabernet. Paul works w/ some
30+ different blocks of grapes off the Monte Bello Vnyd (must be an accountant's
... or production manager's.. nightmare), makes each block into the best
possible wine that can be made, and then blends the lots to achieve the
unique MonteBello style he seeks. Blending all these lots together could
very well yield nothing but a "grey" wine, white noise in the Cabernet
world. But that is certainly NOT the case w/ MonteBello Cab; probably each
component brings some component to the blend that still retains much of
its individuality and is not lost to the other components. I feel it's
not just the unique growing conditions up on the Ridge, but also the very
skillful blending that goes into it that makes MonteBello Cabernet one
of the world's great wines. IMHO. I'm planning to attend a 30+ vertical
of MonteBello Cabernets in a few weeks. Methinks I'm in big trouble and
may not be up to the task of adequately describing all the wines.
This was an extraordinary seminar. Not only were the wines
incredibly good, but the knowledge & information Paul Draper shared
w/ us was also extraordinary. He has been winemaker at Ridge for
almost 30 yrs. Yet when Paul gets wound up & talking about Ridge wines,
he shows exactly the same passion & enthusiasm & excitement for
what he's doing as when I first met him in '74; which is pretty incredible.
I can think of a lot of other winemakers in a similar venue who just get
up there and go thru the motions, who it's clear that they would much rather
be somewhere else doing something else; who clearly have little idea what's
going on out there in their wnry (don't ask me to name names, though).
Not so w/ Paul Draper. It was rather funny; Paul was so engrossed in sharing
his thoughts & opinions that his wife, Maureen, sitting in the audience,
had to rein him in & get him moving on thru the rest of the wines.
If you ever have a chance to attend a Paul Draper seminar, it's not one
Also tasted that night at dinner (at Joseph's Table in Taos;
w/ one of the best meals I've ever had in Taos) the La Mission Haut Brion
'89 and the Ridge MonteBello Cab '91. No detailed notes, was just in the
enjoyment mode, enjoying good food, great wine, and the most special of
friends; which is what it's all about. The LaMission was pretty strong/smokey/pungent
and hard; needed much age. The MonteBello was.... well.... MonteBello.
Terrific, classic MonteBello, and needing of age.
Tannins: Although these wines were huge extracted Cabs w/
loads of tannins; they did not, to me, have the harshness & hardness
on the palate that many such tannic wines have. They were a genuine pleasure
to drink even in their youth here. Paul Draper is probably one of the best
people around when it comes tannin management in wines and producing tannic
wines that are lacking that hard/harsh character. It would be fun to have
him do a seminar sometime on his thought on the subject. Strictly for the
oeno-geek types, though.
I get a lot of Rhone/Hermitage character in these MonteBello
Cabs. I would sure be neat to see what Syrah would do grown up on Monte
Bello Ridge. As if there's any doubt!!
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