On Ridge’s East Lytton Estate, Zinfandel grows on seven hilltops: Petite Sirah surrounds the Zinfandel on six, Grenache on the seventh. It’s an unusual configuration. The West Lytton Estate vineyard, on the other hand, is a magnificent hodgepodge of grapes, including more Zinfandel, which seems at home here. The balanced, powerful wine made from this fruit ages beautifully, becoming more nuanced and expressive with time.
This wine is classic Dry Creek Valley. Following a very wet December and very dry January, rain during the first week of April, though welcome, disrupted flowering and reduced yields in the 2015 vintage. Fruit ripened quickly in the warm summer weather, and harvest began mid-August, the earliest ever.
Ridge is a minimal-intervention winemaking pioneer. The sustainably-grown fruit was hand-picked, de-stemmed, and crushed (except the Petite Sirah, which was whole-berry pressed), then fermented by native yeast. The winery managed colour and tannin extraction by limiting pump-overs to once daily. Following naturally-occurring malolactic fermentation, 24 of the 33 small fermentation lots were selected for their concentrated fruit and elegant structure. These lots were transferred to American oak (15% new, 85% used) for 14 months maturation. Handling, added sulfur, and fining were kept to a minimum.
This is an excellent vintage: appealing now, and certain to improve over the next decade. The wine shows the potent jammy fruit of old-vine Sonoma Zinfandel with notes of brambly raspberry, pepper, mint, and toasted oak. That intricacy comes in part from the blend, a thoughtful combination of 74% Zinfandel, 16% Petite Sirah, 8% Carignane, and 2% Mataro (Mourvedre). Acidity and tannin structure are firm, but not overwhelming.
“The 2015 Lytton Springs is very, very closed. Readers should not think about opening a bottle anytime soon. Intensely aromatic, but also tightly wound, the 2015 only hints at its true potential. Deceptively medium in body, the 2015 packs a real punch.”
94+ points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, Aug 2017
“A wine that always delivers (and ages beautifully), the 2015 Lytton Springs checks in as a blend of 74% Zinfandel,16% Petite Sirah, 8% Carignan, and 2% Mourvèdre, all from the Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma. It offers tons of black raspberries, blueberries, brambly spice, leather and dried herb aromatics, full-bodied richness, no hard edges and a gorgeous, mouth filling texture. It’s not the most concentrated vintage of this cuvee, yet it excels on its finesse, approachability and sheer charm. Drink it anytime over the coming decade.”
92 points, Jeb Dunnuck, The Rhone Report, Aug 2017