You’ll find the Lytton Springs vineyard in Sonoma County, south of Geyserville and north of Healdsburg. The first Lytton Springs bottling was produced in 1972 from vines that were planted on the eastern half of the vineyard at the turn of the century. (The vineyard’s name comes from one of the site’s original owners, Captain William Litton, who was steward of the land in the 1870’s.) This is a stony benchland vineyard that ranges over the varied, gravelly clay and clay-loam hillsides separating Dry Creek and the Anderson Valley.
Ridge is known for their sustainable vineyard practices. Lytton Springs, planted to head-trained spur-pruned Zinfandel and its principal complementary varietals, is no exception. The 2014 release reflects the vineyard’s composition, comprised of 69% Zinfandel, 18% Petite Sirah, 11% Carignane, and 2% Mataro (also known as Mourvedre). April rain disrupted flowering and reduced yield that year, but gave the vines enough water to survive a third year of drought. Mild temperatures in August were ideal for ripening.
Fruit was hand-harvested by vineyard parcel, then went through fermentation by native yeast in 34 small lots: the Petite Sirah was fermented as whole berries, the other varietals were de-stemmed and crushed. The 25 lots that best expressed the vineyard’s distinctive character were combined and transferred to air-dried American oak barrels (20% new, 80% second through fifth use) where the wine matured for thirteen months. The winery practices a hands-off approach in the cellar, and bottled the wine with minimal filtration and the addition of limited sulfur.
This is Zinfandel with structure and depth, certainly a cellar-worthy wine that will unwind with time. Deep purple in colour, the nose shows aromas of black pepper, cassis, and licorice. The palate is rich with layered plum and blackberry fruit, medium-bodied with silky tannins. The smoky notes of earthy, herbal California chapparal linger on the finish.
“The 2014 Lytton Springs is another absolutely gorgeous wine. Perhaps because of its relatively recent bottling, the 2014 feels a bit compressed, but there appears to be plenty of complexity and depth hiding behind the acidity and tannin. Far from an easygoing Zinfandel, the 2014 Lytton is a wine to buy and cellar for at least a handful of years. The wine’s richness, persistence and vertical intensity all lead me to believe it will be special in time. Black cherry, pomegranate, mint and sweet spices meld into the resonant finish. A kick of tannin from the Petite adds personality, something the 2014 has in spades. 2019 – 2034”
94+ points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, July 2016