Possibly the “wine of the vintage,” the 2008 boasts an inky/blue/purple color as well as a glorious perfume of spring flowers, blueberry and blackberry liqueur, camphor, truffles and crushed rocks. With great fruit on the attack and mid-palate, a medium to full-bodied, multidimensional mouthfeel and a skyscraper-like finish, this prodigious effort over-delivers, even for this phenomenal terroir. Give it 5-8 years of cellaring and drink it over the following 40-50 years.
Dave Phinney – “Dark violet with a ruby crown, the wine exhibits classic Napa Cabernet aromatics with our style: black fruits—plum and cherry—dark chocolate, leather and Rutherford Dust coalesce from the glass. The entry is elegant and begins to flood the palate with notes of cassis, blackberry, blueberry, caramel and a touch of brown sugar and cinnamon: rich and bold. Seamless and focused, the wine closes with lingering dusty tannins and a touch of baking chocolate.”
Dave Phinney – “A dark crimson with a blue band, the nose presents immediate aromas of boysenberry, currants, graphite, cedar, fir ash and vanilla. Seamless on the entry with resounding energy, the mid-palate features lush blackberry and bing cherry as well as a hint of sweet red licorice. Long, complex tannins punctuate the finish with an elegant and tapering note of black tea.”
Lisa Perrotti-Brown - "Medium to deep garnet-purple in color, the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Palermo gives up gregarious scents of kirsch, Black Forest cake and warm cassis with hints of dried mint, dark chocolate and rose hip tea plus a waft of unsmoked cigars. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is packed with ripe black berry layers, framed by velvety tannins and a lively line, finishing long and fragrant."
93 Points - Stuart McCloskey “The blend: 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 4% Malbec and 2% Petit Verdot. All the boxes are ticked if you are seeking a refined and graceful wine that whispers its way around one’s palate. Softly-softly, classical and very fine. I enjoy the leafy / autumnal aromatics provided by the ‘little touch of Cabernet Franc.’ The plump, pillow-like shape to the wine will please many. I enjoy the menthol kick, cedar and lovely freshness. This is not a power packed wine – far from it. Neither is it a scrawny one. Everything is just right for a wine of this price and reflects the cool vintage. All-encompassing smoothness and the integration is faultless. Decanted for 2 hours (I'm not sure it’s necessary) and served using Zalto Bordeaux glassware. Drinking now…”
Erin Larkin, Wine Companion "Hand picked and destemmed. Up to 40 days on skins and matured in French oak for 18 months (60% new). For all the work in the winery, the fruit was clearly very gently handled, with judicious tannin extraction. Medium-bodied, supple, and texturally constructed of fine silk. Densely packed with berry flavour, and corseted by exotic spice, this is a supremely elegant wine."
97 Points - James Molesworth, Wine Spectator
97 Points - James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com "A bright and beautiful Monte Bello with dark and black fruit, such as blackcurrants, as well as walnuts and hints of vanilla. Full-bodied with creamy tannins that are there from start to finish. Turns lightly dusty. Beautiful length. Really pure and focused. Needs time to come together completely, but already a beauty. Drink after 2025."
96+ Points - Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media "The 2018 Monte Bello is a wine of extraordinary finesse. Although it doesn’t have the body or overt richness of some recent vintages, it more than makes up for that with its total sense of harmony. Lavender, mocha, spice, licorice and dried flowers all develop in a sublime, refined Monte Bello that will thrill Ridge lovers. This is an especially elegant, lithe vintage for Monte Bello that is marked by a dry year with no heat spikes and a very long harvest that wrapped up in late October."
94 Points - Neal Martin
Tasted blind at the Southwold Bordeaux 2010 tasting. The Chapelle d'Ausone 2010 has a tightly coiled bouquet that is very linear and controlled, not as expressive as its peers but with fine mineralite. The palate is tight on the entry with crisp tannins, bright tart cherry fruit and plenty of energy. It builds in the mouth to quite a structured, linear finish that does not forsake breeding and class. If only all second wines were as good as this. Tasted January 2014.
The Chapelle d’Ausone has an intense bouquet with vibrant, slightly dusty black fruit that are very well defined and develop intriguing earthy, almost graphite aromas with aeration. Leaving it in my glass over five minute it offers some gorgeous, yet subtle floral notes. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannins and a degree of composure and refinement. One feels that they could have easily tried to extract more from this wine but resisted temptation and consequently produced a better wine. Everything in its right place.
17.5 Points - Jancis Robinson "Tasted blind. Sweet and easy. Not dramatic but well mannered and all in balance. Inky and very Margaux. Henri Lurton and his sustainable viticulture will presumably be very pleased that his wine was the group's second-favourite Margaux after Ch Margaux in this Southwold tasting."
96 Points - Neal Martin "The 2016 Brane-Cantenac has been on a roll of late, under the watchful eye of Henri Lurton. This latest bottled vintage is superb. The divine, pure blackberry and bilberry bouquet develops touches of graphite in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, silky-smooth texture and a superb bead of acidity. This is not a powerful Brane-Cantenac, and it is perhaps less austere than I suspected en primeur, but it should drink beautifully over the next three decades. If you have a penchant for traditional claret, it really doesn’t come better than this."
96 Points - James Suckling "So much ripe and sweet tobacco on the nose with currant and blackberry character. Full body, intense tannins with density and beauty. It’s a wine with great structure and panache for this estate. Try after 2024."