76% Zinfandel, 17% Petite Sirah, 7% Carignane
Dry Creek Valley
Black raspberry, dusty fruit, earth, pungent exotic spice. Serious structure; elegantly large, round tannins. A massive wine with length and aging potential.
An early start to the growing season – coupled with a warm summer – brought veraison (color change) by mid-July, at which point we thinned the crop to assure intensity. As harvest began it ecame clear that tannins were potentially excessive, so we left half the remaining grapes uncrushed to slow extraction. We also reduced circulation of juice over skins, and pressed at six days on average. After natural primary and secondary fermentations, we chose twenty-six of the thirty-four parcels as most intense and most typical of the vineyard. The wine aged in air-dried american oak barrels, half of which were two to four years old. Another twenty percent were new, and thirty percent were only one year old. This added more oak than usual, yet it remains a complement rather than a dominant in this rich, full wine. Enjoyable now, it will soften and gain further complexity over the next five to ten years. PD (12/02)
Ridge made its first Lytton Springs from the 80- year- old vines here in 1972, and purchased both the eastern and western portions of the vineyard in the early 1990s. (In the 1870s, under “Captain” William Litton’s ownership, the two were part of one property; spelling evolved into “Lytton” by 1903.) The vineyard is planted to zinfandel and its principal complementary varietals: petite sirah, carignane, a small amount of mataro (mourvedre), and grenache.
Rainfall:Less than normal; most in mid-winter, little in spring, water stress by August.
Bloom: May (normal)
Weather: Warm spring, summer & fall.
Harvest Dates: 31 August – 5 October
Grapes: Average brix 25.6°; average pH at crush 3.59. Most vineyard blocks became fully ripe over a three-week period in September.
Fermentation: No inoculation. Natural primary and secondary; daily pump-overs reduced to avoid excessive tannin extraction. Pressed at five to eight days.
Barrels: 100% air-dried american oak barrels (20% new, 30% one- year-old, 50% two and four).
Aging: 13 months in barrel
San Francisco Chronicle’s Top 100 Wines of 2003 (12/03): A panel favorite. Focused in its generous, well-ripened fruit laced with bramble and earth notes, with good length, balance and a minerally finish. Top 10 Selection.
Wine & Spirits (10/03): From Ridge’s ancient, head-pruned vines on the rolling hills above Dry Creek, Lytton Springs blasts with flavor in 2001, complex, dark and brooding. Generous on the palate, with hard tannins which are fully ripe, making the finish gravelly, seeming to provide their own mineral scent in the dense aroma. Some panelists objected to the alcohol level in the wine, one warning, “Don’t smoke around this wine.” This critic, however, found it well within bounds of the wine’s overall structure, a grand portrait of California’s terroir in the year 2001. Another Ridge Zinfandel scored 93 points in this issue: 2001 California Llewelyn. (W&S 10/03) Ridge Vineyards, Cupertino, CA. Rated: 93
Wine Advocate (10/03): Equally superb is the 2001 Lytton Springs Proprietary Red, a blend of 76% Zinfandel, 17% Petite Sirah, and 7% Carignan (14.7% alcohol). I was knocked out by its multiple dimensions and combination of jammy briery raspberry and currant fruit intermingled with licorice, spice, and pepper. Its dense purple color is accompanied by a rich, full-bodied palate presentation, and a long seamless finish. Enjoy this outrageously delicious Zinfandel over the next 5-6 years. Rated: 92
Wine Enthusiast (11/03): Firm, focused and concentrated, with a classy array of black plum, black cherry, cola, coffee, chocolate, blackberry, vanilla, spice and herb flavors. The wine is silky smooth, ripe and luxuriously long on the finish. Rated: 91
Average Rating: 90.5
No. of Tasting Notes: 189
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