Black at the core, with magenta only showing around the edges. The nose is rich with black fruits, spice, and buttery coconut. Petite Verdot, just 2% of the blend, has a huge anchoring effect, grounding the wine in dark, loamy earth with hints of deep ripeness. Soaring above the earth, Cabernet Sauvignon shows brilliantly, with black currant and blackberry singing, while Merlot’s black cherry does fine back-up work. A touch of tobacco leaf reminds the drinker that these grapes grew on a vine. Tannins are a chewey snack in their own right, yet there’s enough acid freshness to keep it, just barely away from the “fruit bomb” badge. It’s far too balanced to be cast off so casually. This will continue to improve in the cellar for years to come. Drink with a very fine ribeye and an even better friend. Very Highly Recommended. 98 points. DBH

WHO: Ridge
WHAT: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot
DESIGNATION: Monte Bello
WHERE: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
HOW MUCH: $200 (media sample)