Mission Codename Bello, papaguena!
“The discovery of a good wine is increasingly better for mankind than the discovery of a new star.” - Leonardo da Vinci
Maybe you’ve heard of a little vineyard out in Santa Cruz.
Goes by the name Monte Bello…
Ridge Monte Bello represents one of the most loved wines by true die hard wine cognoscenti across the country. Galloni’s Vinous called it “one of the most pedigreed wines in the United States, with a track record that stands comfortably next to the very best from around the world.” It’s a much loved wine that left its mark on our very own Agent Noir at a historic Ridge Monte Bello vertical he attended (with wines dating back to 1963! (The curious among you can click here for more on that.)
Now I know what you’re thinking - this isn’t Ridge Monte Bello. You’re right. It’s definitely not in some senses. Starting with the price - this wine is about ten times cheaper at $27.
Thing is, this wine comes from a very similar breeding ground as the world famous Ridge wine. R&W Vineyards is a tiny estate located on Montebello Road in Santa Cruz, perched at 1895’ elevation. It shares a similarly extraordinary terroir that makes for age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignon.
Noël Relyea and Bill Wood, the R and the W behind R&W Vineyards are not your typical couple. Both are scientists with PhDs in biochemistry from Cornell, followed by bleeding edge careers at some of the top companies in the world. Now retired, their entire focus is the wine dream they built from the ground up in 2005. From Wood’s obsession with microbiology raising ambient yeasts, to building an observatory out of the winery barn, science guides them, while they pursue the art of winemaking.
How about in the glass? Certainly no Monte Bello, yet maybe we’ll dub it “a Baby Bello’ and then some.
In the glass a vivid crimson rim fades to a deeper ruby in the opaque center. It delivers a highly expressive nose of blackberries, cassis, juicy black cherries, lead pencil shavings, and a touch of nutmeg. The palate carries it all through, with bright red berries, juicy red currant, and an exotic hint of candied orange peel in the back. It finishes youthful and a touch austere as the mountain tannins kick in toward the long, complex finish. All you need to make it even more memorable is a well-marbled rib-eye steak with all the fixings.
For under $30 you’ll have something to blow your Cab connoisseur friends’ minds. Just don’t tell them what you paid. For a wine this good grown on the Monte Bello Ridge – they just won’t believe you.
Let’s drink to that, while it lasts.
It appeals to the eye first with a vivid crimson rim turning a much deeper ruby in the opaque center
The nose is highly expressive with blackberries, cassis, juicy black cherries, lead pencil shavings, and a touch of nutmeg
The palate carries it all through, with brighter redder berries, juicy red currant, and an exotic hint of candied orange peel in the back
Youthful and a touch austere as the mountain tannins kick in toward the long, complex finish
All you need to make it even more memorable is a well-marbled rib-eye steak with all the fixings
What the Winery Says
2018 Santa Cruz Mountains Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
- William Wood
- 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 1% Merlot
- Santa Cruz Mountains, Central Coast
- Relyea-Wood Estate
- Harvest date
- October 14, 2018
- 21 months
- 75% new French oak
- 4 barrels