75% Zinfandel, 20% Petite Sirah, 5% Carignane
Dry Creek Valley
Deep ruby in color, showing ripe plum fruit, spice, briar, Dry Creek earth. Notes of pepper, dried briar leaf, black and red licorice. Rich, lively, elegant. Chalky tannins. Fantastic length.
Spring rains replenished the groundwater that sustains these dry-farmed vines through summer. Harvest began in mid-September and continued into early October as the grapes ripened fully in each individual parcel. At the first fermentation, it was apparent that tannins were developing rapidly. To give us better control of extraction, we allowed the grapes to float as a cap, rather than submerging them. To the same end, both the petite sirah and the very tannic zinfandel from the old vines on the eastern hills were destemmed, but left as whole berries. Despite these efforts, structure was still too firm after a year in barrel, so we fined with fresh egg whites. The resulting wine is full-bodied, yet well-defined, its layers of fruit readily apparent. Approachable when young, this excellent zinfandel will continue to mature over the next ten years.
In 1972, Ridge made its first Lytton Springs from vines planted here at the turn of the century, 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, grenache, and a small amount of mataro
Rainfall: Just over forty inches, most in winter.
Bloom: Late May
Weather: Cool April and May; May rain affected set. Summer and fall fairly even; no intense heat.
Harvest Dates: 6 September – 16 October
Grapes: Average brix 26.1; average pH at crush 3.55.
Fermentation: No inoculation; natural primary and secondary. Pressed at six days.
Barrels: 100% air-dried american oak barrels (25% new; 30% one and two years old; 45% three, four, five years old).
Aging: Thirteen months in barrel
Quarterly Review of Wines (Summer 2005): 5-Star Wine (the 2003 Zinfandel Paso Robles received Best of Show of 87 zinfandels tasted blind). “Big, rich, round, plushly textured, black fruit, mocha and vanilla flavors.”
San Francisco Chronicle/SF Gate (10 Mar 2005): “If Geyserville is the Merlot of major-release Ridge Zinfandels, this is the Cabernet. Juicy and ripe aromas of blackberry, black plum, oak, black currant, raspberry, black and white pepper and bacon. Fruit-forward flavors of blackberry, black pepper and mineral. Big body, firm structure; you can taste the oak. Medium-long finish. Blend of 75 percent Zinfandel, 20 percent Petite Sirah and 5 percent Carignane.” Read article at SFGate.com
Wine Advocate (28 Feb 2005): “One of the most famous names in Zinfandel-land is Lytton Springs, and Ridge’s 2002 Lytton Springs (75% Zinfandel, 20% Petite Sirah, and 5% Carignan) boasts a deep ruby/purple hue along with a big, sweet nose of briery, blueberry, and blackberry fruit, full body, good acidity, and notions of pepper, loamy earth, and licorice. While this beauty will undoubtedly last a decade, it should be at its finest over the next 5-6 years.” Rated: 93
San Francisco Chronicle/SF Gate (Dec 2004): Top 100 Wines of 2004 – “Old Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Carignane vines produce this intense, full-bodied wine loaded with black plum, black pepper and briary character. Rich and polished.” Read article at SFGate.com
Wine & Spirits (Oct 2004): The Year’s Best Zinfandel & Syrah – “A fine vintage for Lytton Springs, this shows off the intensity of the vineyard’s ancient vines. It’s bright and bold, sappy and intense, a saturated black wine that grows increasingly fragrant as it takes on air. Enjoy now with brisket, or cellar for eight to ten years, when the complexity will be that much more apparent.” Rated: 93
Food & Wine (Oct 2004): Best Wines Over $20 Zinfandel – “Paul Draper, winemaker at Ridge for 35 years, bottled his first Lytton Springs Zin back in 1972. The core of the Lytton Springs property, a 42-acre vineyard of 111-year-old dry-farmed vines, produced this lively, elegant wine with notes of plum, black pepper and licorice.”
Connoisseurs’ Guide (Sep 2004): “This is the richest and deepest of the current collection of Zinfandels from Ridge, and, while it is simply brimming with highly ripened berries, it derives a very real sense of complexity from its layered suggestions of pepper, caramel, chocolate and loam. A big but well-balanced mouthful of wine, it is solidly structured and just tannic enough to argue that, as good as it is right now, it will be that much better with a few years of additional age.” Rated: 93
New York Times (21 July 2004): The 2002 Lytton Springs was rated one of the best of 25 Dry Creek Valley zinfandels recently tasted. “Clear fruit flavors with harmony and structure; cries out for grilled meats.” Rated: *** Read article
International Wine Cellar (July/August 2004): “Bright, dark red. Superripe aromas of plum, blackcurrant, espresso and chocolate; distinctly port-like with aeration. Fat, dense, silky and sweet, but youthfully slightly medicinal flavors are not yet expressing themselves. Intensely flavored and serious, with considerable aging potential.” Rated: 90(+?)
Average Rating: 90.7
No. of Tasting Notes: 157
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