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98pts Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2016 Monte Bello is stunning, bursting from the glass with aromas of crushed currants, plums, charcoal, sweet spices, black truffle and rich soil. On the palate, it's full-bodied, immensely deep and very concentrated, with an ample core of dark fruit that almost entirely conceals its rich chassis of tannin. The finish is long, tensile and chalky. Eric Baugher observes that 2016 was a drought year but that the vines were less stressed than in 2015, thanks to Spring precipitation, and it wasn't necessary to irrigate. Summer saw wild temperature swings, and though it was below average in summation, some days were very warm. The final Monte Bello blend contains 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot and 6% Cabernet Franc, which represents a slight change from when I tasted it a year ago, though its profile remains very much the same. The 2016 checks in at 13.8% alcohol and pH 3.49. Cellar it for a decade and follow it for another three. Rating: 96-98+
97pts Jeb Dunnuck
Bottled in March of 2018 and a blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, and the balance Cabernet Franc, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Bello offers a more streamlined, elegant, and ultra-classic style compared to the 2014 and 2015, which are slightly bigger, richer wines. Boasting a deep purple color and beautiful purity in its crème de cassis, blueberry, white flowers, and vanilla bean, it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, silky tannins, and perfect balance. It doesn’t have the sheer depth of fruit of some of the blockbuster years, yet makes up for it with its incredible purity, poise, and balance. Relatively approachable for a Monte Bello, it’s still going to see its 30th birthday in fine form.
96pts Wine Spectator
The 2016 Monte Bello is plush and dense, but with its typically distinct racy edge for counterbalance, with a massive core of dark plum and blackberry fruit scored by bay, sage and violet notes. It’s among the best young Monte Bellos I’ve had.
96pts Wine & Spirits
A wine destined to evolve for decades, the 2016 is a muscular vintage of Monte Bello. That textural grandeur sets it apart from most contemporary California cabernets; and part of that distinctive texture connects to the way grape-skin tannins mature on vines David Gates farms on this coastal limestone ridge. All of the parcels that contributed to this blend are certified organic, a practice that also sustains the health of the microbial population Eric Baugher relies on for the yeasts that ferment this wine. It is increasingly rare to find cabernet sauvignon produced at commercial quantities anywhere in the world that does not rely on commercial yeasts; and whether or not you believe this is significant to the flavor and complexity of the wine, it is, in a real sense, a reflection of the health of the farming practice. If you are interested in a strapping young cabernet, infused with the kind of energy that health sustains, the 2016 Monte Bello is a wine for your cellar.
Opaque purple-ruby color. Ripe blackberry fruit, barrel spice, anise, violets, and crushed limestone. Opulent mountain fruit entry, firm acid, and fine-grain, age-worthy tannins. Powerful complexity and tremendous length to the finish. Blend: 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, 6% Cabernet Franc