The 2013 Merlot Estate shows just how extraordinary this vintage is at Ridge. Far from an easygoing wine, the 2013 Merlot hits the palate with serious intensity and tannic heft. Dark and virile to the core, the 2013 is flat-out delicious. Even with all of its intensity, the 2013 retains the classic Ridge sense of mid-weight structure. Readers should plan on cellaring the 2013 for at least a few years. This is impressive stuff. HistoryIn 1886 the Monte Bello vineyard was first planted and construction on the winery begun. The first vintage was in 1892. In the early 1940s, the last of the old vineyard was abandoned in the late forties a few blocks were replanted. Those cabernet vines—now sixty years old—produced the first Ridge Monte Bello (1962) and subsequent vintages until the mid-seventies. By then, abandoned blocks replanted during the sixties were maturing, and their fruit considered for use in the Monte Bello. A number of those consistently produced a more accessible wine that developed its full complexity earlier and these were combined as the “Santa Cruz Mountains.” With the 2008 vintage the name of this stylistically distinct wine becomes Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, stressing the varietal and the Monte Bello vineyard as its source.