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I went up to Ridge (Monte Bello) the other day for the first time in many years despite having family in the area and visiting here at least twice a year. It's a giant PitA to get there; the road appears to be genuinely dangerous. But it's well worth the trip.

They poured several wines, one Chard, two Zins, a Rhone blend, the SCM Cab and three vintages of Monte Bello red. I enjoyed the Chard a lot; not the least oakey or otherwise typically "California". The Zins I could take or leave. The Rhone blend was interesting.

Of the MB red, we had the current release (2007) plus the 1991 and 1992. I was quite impressed by all three. Everyone in the room agreed that the '91 was the star. Just more depth than the other two. The guy running the tasting thought it was perfectly mature; I had my doubts. Then again, I tend to let my wine go a little longer than most people would.

Great stuff. I used to have a lot of '80s vintages but I drank it all long ago. Need to stock up on this again.

Prices were, frankly, insulting. A little furtive searching with the b-berry showed that anything they were selling at the winery could be had for 20-40% less with ease at retail.
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I don't get it. A 1991 is almost 20 years old. That should be pretty mature.

I don't know where you're from Manton, but in the US, and in CA in particular, wineries do not undercut their retailers by selling for less at the winery. In the US the winery sells to a distributor who sells to a retailer who sells to you.

Since you like your wine mature, you may know a bit about wine and how the business works - most distributors would be pretty PO'd if they knew the wineries were undercutting their customers - i.e. the retailers - by selling directly to customers at lower prices. That's one of the reasons there's so much contention regarding direct shipping today.

Prices for Ridge can vary considerably, depending on who's selling. "Regular" retail for something like Lytton Springs is around the low thirties these days. I've seen it for up to $40 and if you look for the 2007 for ex, it's anywhere from $20 - $40. The winery is never going to compete with the discounters so I wouldn't expect Ridge to sell it to me for the lowest price available.

And if they're selling back vintages, as posted above, it's well worth paying a few bucks more for perfect provenance. BTW - Ridge does offer a substantial discount if you buy from their mailing list when they release the wines. After that, the wines go for regular retail. They've been doing that for around 20 years or so - which means you made a mistake in not picking up that 1991 back then.
20-40% was maybe a low estimate. The prices were much, much higher. I take the point about the provenance but K&L (a very respectable merchant) has that wine for $150 less than Ridge was selling at the winery. For that savings, I will take the risk.

Not complaining, I enjoyed the visit and was grateful that they cracked the old stuff. The tasting fee was $30 and well worth it.
Originally posted by GregT:
I don't get it. A 1991 is almost 20 years old. That should be pretty mature.

It's just about drinking age, with a long life ahead of it. Wink
When I had it at about 10 years out, it was very hard and ungiving. Only just had it again recently and it is quite impressive. The market (and wine boards) have long known this is a stand-out Monte Bello, but all the critics rated it as a typical example. Anyway, it's pretty early into its drinking window. Depending on one's preferences, it's either at its peak or still has a decade or two til it hits its peak.
I have none left. Only had a few and drank the last about 2 years ago. We decanted it and drank it over an evening. It was great and no longer a young wine. I suppose one could age it longer and I didn't mean to imply that it's peaked, but I didn't think it was too young to open. In any case, I've become smarter since that one came out and now I buy more, so at least I'll be able to make the 20 year anniversaries.

I do have some other 1991s and always considered it a great vintage for CA Cab.

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