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 there. 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 2016 Lytton Springs is a powerful, dense wine. Black cherry, plum, lavender, new leather, cloves, licorice and menthol flesh out. Deep, plush and richly textured, the 2016 Lytton Springs packs a real punch. The 23% Petite Sirah is felt in the wine’s darkness and overall gravitas. There is more than enough richness and structure to support many years of fine drinking. What a gorgeous wine this is. 2022-41.”
95 points, Antonio Galloni vinous.com, Aug 2018
“Made with 69% Zinfandel, 23% Petite Sirah,6% Carignane, and 2% Mataro (Mourvèdre) the 2016 production was 11,000 cases. Dark in colour the wine has a deep perfume of spice tinged blackberries with a very faint exotic nuance. With lots of fruit the wine is rounded and very harmonious, but, make no mistake, with additional age it will show additional complexity and develop over many years into the future.”
Outstanding/Outstanding Plus, undergroundwineletter.com, Oct 2018