Robert Parker 89
“I’ve had better bottles, but as it approaches its 15th birthday, the 2003 Monte Bello is beginning to look like one of the weaker vintages of the new millennium-and certainly of this tasting-exhibiting rich and already evolved aromas of roasted dark fruit that include hints of fig and prune, as well as classic nuances of cigar wrapper and espresso roast. On the palate, the wine is medium to full-bodied and still structured around rich tannins, balanced by bright acids, but it’s showing more evolution than the 2002 or the 2004 vintages that bookend it. Baugher believes that he may have picked prematurely in this vintage, suggesting that phenolics were out of sync with sugars. The blend is 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot and 7% Petit Verdot, and it attained 13.2% natural alcohol.”
Anticipated maturity: 2013-2028
(85% cabernet sauvignon, 8% merlot and 7% petit verdot) Full ruby-red. Knockout nose offers blackberry, currant, plum, cedar, minerals and dark chocolate. Fresh, succulent and quite firm in the mouth, with brisk acids and a minty nuance lifting the dark berry and chocolate flavors. Finishes with chewy tannins that come across as a bit less harmonious than those of the young 2004. But this youthfully closed wine grew sweeter with aeration.