74% Zinfandel, 23% Petite Sirah, 6% Carignane
Dry Creek Valley
Ripe black cherry/raspberry nose, with notes of pepper, licorice, chaparral, and tobacco. Rich black fruit on the palate. Full, viscous. Well-coated tannins and a long, layered finish.
Despite welcome late-spring rains, the growing season got off to an early start in 2009. Significant heat throughout July ripened the grapes for harvest in early September. The vineyard’s thirty-four parcels were picked separately, fermented on their natural yeasts, and were pressed at dryness. In blind tastings following natural malolactic, we chose twenty-three of the lots to exemplify the vintage. The proportion of new oak was reduced slightly, to allow full expression of the wine’s fruit and inherent elegance. Enjoyable upon release, this opulent though structured Lytton Springs will evolve over the next ten to fifteen years. JO (11/10)
In 1972, Ridge made its first Lytton Springs from vines planted on the eastern half of the vineyard 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.
Rainfall: Thirty-four inches (below average)
Bloom: Late May
Weather: Dry winter saved by spring rains and a warm, dry summer.
Harvest Dates: 11 September – 4 October
Grapes: Average Brix 25.4
Fermentation: Natural primary and secondary. Pressed at eight days.
Barrels: 100% air-dried american oak barrels (18% new; 57% one, two and three years; 25% four years old)
Aging: Fourteen months in barrel
All estate-grown grapes, hand harvested. Destemmed and crushed. Fermented on the native yeasts, followed by full malolactic on the naturally-occurring bacteria. 1.5 grams/liter tartaric acid and a total of two and a half percent rehydration (added to seven particularly ripe parcels) during fermentation; minimum effective sulfur (35 parts per million at crush, 177 ppm over the course of aging); fresh egg white fining to moderate tannins. Pad filtered at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
Wine & Spirits (February 2012) “John Olney considers 2009 to be th best vintage from this historic vineyard since 2005. This release includes 23 percent petite sirah and six percent carignane, so it’s not labeled as zinfandel. The blend balances tannic complexity from old-vine fruit with the richer, brighter notes of young-vine zin. The younger fruit fills out the texture without diminishing the tension and edginess of the wine. It’s black, smoky and subtle, a red to decant now with grilled sirloin or to cellar for ten years.” (Rated: 92)
San Francisco Chronicle (4 December 2011) – Top 100 Wines of 2011 – “Under the hand of winemaker John Olney, the latest Lytton Springs is a gorgeous high-wire act, the best in years. Heady and full of dried flowers, dusty plum and India ink, it brings a stunning freshness to its berry fruit, with a firm tannic backbone thanks to 23 percent Petite Sirah.” -Jon Bonne
Wine Advocate (Issue 196, August 2011) 95 Points – “The 2009 Lytton Springs is the biggest and most structured of these 2009 Zinfandel-based reds, largely owing to the earthier soils and the presence 23% Petite Sirah. Black fruit, plums, tar, licorice and smoke are some of the notes that flow from this generous, inviting red. The Lytton Springs is fairly structured, and can definitely benefit from another year or two (perhaps more) in bottle. The blend is 74% Zinfandel, 21% Petite Sirah and 5% Carignane. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2029.
I tasted a breathtaking array of wines during my recent visit with Paul Draper at Ridge. Draper is a true American icon, so it’s great to see him doing well after a bout with illness. I also tasted a number of older wines, including several Monte Bellos going back to the 1970s. Heretical as it may sound, I think the wines Draper is making today will prove to be far superior to the wines of decades past, many of which are rightly considered legendary. For ease of reference I have also included notes on all of the Ridge wines made outside the Santa Cruz Mountains. The Chardonnays are fermented with native yeasts and go into barrel with their gross lees, which are stirred once a week. The malos usually start the following spring. The wines are assembled just before the following harvest and go back into neutral oak. Aging is about 15 months for the Estate and 17 months for the Chardonnay Monte Bello, with a maximum of 25% new barrels. The reds are fermented with ambient yeasts, undergo malolactic fermentation in tank (except for the Monte Bello which is mostly done in barrel) and stay on their gross lees until the following spring.” -Antonio Galloni, (Rated: 95)
Average Rating: 91.4
No. of Tasting Notes: 507
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