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.
“Petite Sirah’s expressive personality contributes both spicy and strong structural elements to the dominant Zinfandel portion here, and it all adds up to a young, highly promising bottling with well-concentrated, fully fruited aromas and flavours. Indeed, there is so much to like that, despite its tannic load, this boldly stated wine will drink very nicely now with savoury beef or lamb roasts, yet its true brilliance lies some years in the future, and we will happily lay some away for five to ten years in the full expectation that both range and sophistication will grow and grow.”
95 points, Connoisseur’s Guide to California Wines, Sept 2017
“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
“There were 9,750 cases of this wine produced. Dark in color with a deep perfume showing hints of olallieberry, floral spice, and cedar, this Zinfandel is flavorful and refined in a claret style. It is made with 74% Zinfandel, 16% Petite Sirah, and 8% Carignane. With lots of fruit and flavor and showing a good underlying structure the wine is rich yet balanced and harmonious. While very accessible and drinking well now, it will improve with age and evolve over a decade or more.”
“Outstanding”, Underground Wine Letter, Nov 2017