76% Zinfandel, 18% Petite Sirah, 6% Carignane
Dry Creek Valley
Color: Deep ruby. Nose: Lush, deep. Intense briar/ plum fruit. Penetrating, earthy. Palate: Briar, plum, sweet cherry, blueberry; vanilla, smoke, mineral notes. Big and concentrated. Chalky tannins. A long, complex finish.
This, our twenty-fifth vintage of Lytton Springs, marks the completion of the new, sustainable winery, and the first time we have made the wine on the estate where it is grown. From 1972 to 1976, and again from 1984 to 2002, we picked early in the morning and trucked the grapes to Monte Bello – three hours away. This year’s short crop and intense September heat caused the fruit to ripen all at once. Tannins were highly extractable, so almost half the grapes were left uncrushed, and the number of pump-overs was reduced. As malolactic fermentation finished, we assembled the finest and most typical lots, and racked to barrel. After twelve months in air-dried american oak, the wine was fined with nine egg whites per barrel, balancing firm structure and sensuous fruit. This classic Lytton Springs is enjoyable now. It will soften with a year or two in bottle, and develop fully over the next eight to ten years. JO/PD (11/04)
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: Sixty inches (slightly above normal)
Weather: Rain at bloom reduced crop. Early September heat hastened harvest.
Harvest Dates: 11 – 26 September
Grapes: Average brix 24.8; average pH at crush 3.62.
Fermentation: No inoculation; natural primary and secondary. Pressed at seven days.
Barrels: 100% air-dried american oak barrels (18% new, 26% one year old, 56% two to five years old).
Aging: Twelve months in barrel
Connoisseurs’ Guide (Jan 2006): “On occasion Lytton Springs has been the biggest and ripest of Ridge’s Zins, but this offering comes with a slight sense of restraint in terms of alcohol if not in its fruit. Nicely concentrated and very deep in well-defined blackberries, it also shows complexing touches of mineral and earth that speak straight to its vineyard beginnings. It warms up a bit in its lengthy fruit finish, but it stays in careful balance, and, if a fine wine today, it will gain polish and range in the cellar.” Rated: 93 (**)
Dallas Star-Telegram (7 Dec 2005): “In 1972, Ridge Vineyards made its first vintage of this wine, which more than 30 years later remains a California classic. The 2003 is a blend of zinfandel, petite sirah and carignane (a blending grape used in southern France), and it’s everything that a great wine should be — fairly priced; drinkable now but with potential to age gracefully in the next eight or 10 years; and rich, dark, deep berry flavors typical of the best zinfandels. This wine helps explain why Ridge makes the best zinfandel in the world. Great for bringing to a holiday dinner (prime rib comes to mind), or as a gift for someone who doesn’t yet know how wonderful zinfandel can be.”
San Francisco Chronicle/SF Gate (3 Nov 2005): “Body: Full. Dryness: Dry-semidry. Comments: Rustic style with violet, black fruit, mocha, cedar, licorice and roasted meat aromas; black plum, cranberry and tar flavors; dense and tannic but balanced on the long finish.”
Wine & Spirits (Oct 2005): “The black peppercorn spice of this wine shows it to be more about tannin than fruit at this young stage. Lytton Springs often needs some time to evolve in bottle; if you drink this now, decant it for an hour to let the earthy, dark chocolate tannins meld with that black peppercorn spice. Then serve with braised beef short ribs.” Rated: 90
Wine Spectator (31 Aug 2005): “Excellent structure, with tight, mineral-edged tannins and a core of zesty wild berry and black cherry flavors that are firm and concentrated. It’s almost Bordeaux-like in its balance and restraint. Drink now through 2009.” Rated: 90 -James Laube
Average Rating: 90.0
No. of Tasting Notes: 131
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