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TLily had a link in another topic that I dialed up with curiosity. It's a fascinating vintage chart for the Santa Cruz Mountains and I don't know if this is his personal creation or someone else's. Here's the web site: SCruz Vintage Chart

Given the hype on the 2001 California vintage, this chart gives 2002 (at least in the Santa Cruz Mountains) better marks.

The above in mind, is it looking like 2002 is a better vintage than 2001? Is that more localized to the Santa Cruz Mountains? Has Ridge Vineyards announced its 2002 Montebello futures? (If they did, I missed it due to my travels. The last--and only--Ridge Montebello futures I bought were for the 1999 vintage for a case of half-bottles. I passed on 2000 and 2001, and kicked myself on passing on the latter, but if 2002 is better yet, at least for Ridge Montebello, I'm going to be happy again at least if I can buy it on futures.)
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It is my creation. I planned on updating it over Christmas, but got busy cleaning the garage.

The chart is very localized, and applies to the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA. I was inspired by questions that I receive here from time to time.

I think 2003 may end up being another year with vast differances between Napa and Santa Cruz. Both Napa and Paso Robles had wet storms in late September and October which effected harvest for some. Those storms had no effect in the SCM, missing them largely except for 1-2 days of light rain and some high clouds. Harvest for Cab came in with out any drama, the last week of October for most.

I do think that 2002 is looking better than 2001. But should also explain that some. 2001 in the SCM's looks excellent. The wines will show well in youth I believe and be very fruit forward. 2002 will show more typicity. They should be tighter, longer lived, and more complex.

I consider that a trait of the SCM's and so give higher scores to those vintages that express the uniqueness of the AVA better.

Parker in particular seems to like his wines more forward and has admitted having a tough time with SCM wines in the past. I would expect he'll rate the 2001 higher than the 2002, although he surprised me with his rating on the 1996 and 97 Monte Bello.

It's not too late at all for the 2001's and 2002's. Mount Eden, Kathryn Kennedy and Cooper Garrod are all working through 98,99, and 00 releases right now, so all though the Ridge futures are gone, there's still lots of good wine coming.

There are also good bargains to be found from Cinnebar, T. Fogerty, and Cronin amoung others.

Santa Cruz Mountains Vintage Chart
TLily, that chart is quite impressive! Where were we before the internet!? It's a grand thing to be able to find these nuggets along the way on the forums, and the chart is one.

I have two other questions for you, and hope you see this and have time to reply.

Laying the foundation for the first question, I didn't realize I was going to be in touch with you via this thread as I wasn't aware you were the author of the chart. But, since you've now seen my question on the 85 Ridge, and with the comments you've made on the 2002 vintage, here is my FIRST QUESTION, which is probably unfair in requiring you to "crystal ball" a wine you've not had yet,but: Do you think the 2002 Ridge Montebello will be similar to the 85 in requireing a very long storage period before drinking? I may have done as well not to have bought any, if it's along those lines. You've commented on the 85 to hold for several years, and Parker was saying not to open before 2005, so, 20+ years is a long time to wait for a drink, and if I had to wait 20 years from 2002 for a Ridge Montebello cab, I'd be close to being in my rocker by then!

SECOND QUESTION: What do you think the drinking window may be for the 99 Ridge Montebello?

Thanks again! Smile
Another question for tlily: I've enjoyed the wines of Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard, a small place that I haven't seen mentioned on the board. Their pinots in particular are nice (big wines that require more aging than most pinots) and they make a chard that is not overly oaked. What are your thoughts on them relative to other SCM wineries?

It is really hard to say on a wine that's not out yet, but everything I've heard makes me think 2002 will be very much like 1996, and 1985. Wines that need years to come together. I think the 1999 will offer more in youth and be enjoyable from really now - 2020+. I'd guess a peak of 2012-2018.

These wines, they offer a great core of ripe and pure fruit in youth. Sometimes they battle big tannins young, like 96 and 94, but the fruit is there. Age adds great complexity, sage, black olives, cedar and something Stef calls "Wet leafs on earth". Like a morning forest taste. Those flavors take 8-10 years to come out.

The Prof - I love Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard's. The Bobcat label is how most people know them. Really good Pinot's. My favorite was their Chards. Great pure Chablis like fruit and minerals, and under $15. They are really hard to find though, and I think they've gotten squeezed out of the Chard market, with other producers getting the vineyard contracts. I haven't seen a Chard from them in a few years.

They capture both types of winemakers in the Mountains. The owner is a Silicon Valley "I don't want to commute anymore" guy, and the winemaker is a "liberal arts school looking for a summer job and stayed." guy. The Martin Ray and Paul Draper schools as I call them.

Santa Cruz Mountains Vintage Chart
Thanks, tlily. Funny that you mention "liberal arts student looking for a summer job who stayed." The way I came upon the winery was at a wine tasting at my liberal arts college reunion. As it turns out, one of my liberal arts classmates had married their winemaker. They brought several bottles which (IMHO) blew away the rest of the wines being poured so I immediately ordered a case. Too bad about the Chard. I only ordered 1 bottle and loved it. I was looking forward to ordering more.

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