Lytton Springs is a very highly-respected and serious vineyard site. Home to some of Ridge's most famed Zinfandel wines, it also grows other varieties that in some vintages are good enough to be bottled on their own: this is one of them.
Aged for two years, this wine is dark in colour, showing floral aromas of violet and rose, with a core of dark red, purple and black fruits. A silky smooth, rich and balanced wine, this is lush and seductive wine with integrated oak from the 25% that was aged in new oak barrels. It's an obviously American wine, but never, ever over-the-top: completely balanced, refined and as charming as you could wish for. The finish is long and, to me, has black cherry, vanilla and really interesting spice notes (a bit of cinnamon, but also cardamom and clove) that just add to the paradox of this exquisitely subtle and thoughtful winery, based just outside Silicon Valley.
Farmed since 1972, this vineyard sits where the Russian River and Alexander Valley appellations meet. Made up of about 32 different parcels, the grapes for the Lytton Springs Zinfandel are selected from across the best-performing sections, but for this wine, all of the Petite Sirah comes from the sub-section of the Dry Creek Valley. In the vintages that there is Petite Sirah left over from the Lytton Springs Zinfandel blend, they form a wine of their own naming. As the vines age, the quality of fruit improves, which means that, increasingly, this is being made in most vintages, though not all. It means that at the moment, it's still a treat to find!
The Ridge story is one that really inspires; three tech graduates working in Silicon Valley, bought the ranch in 1959 as a weekend retreat for their young families. On the land was also a winery and vineyards. They started making some wines, but wanted a winemaker, so hired Paul Draper. He himself had been in the US Forces in Europe at the end of the Second World War and had studied in France after his duty, learning about winemaking as part of the course. What has happened since is one of the great rediscovering processes of a region, a grape and a philosophy that has helped put the USA on the fine wine map. Coming fifth in the original Judgement of Paris, then first in the re-visited Judgement 30 years later with the icon wine Monte Bello, the justification for Ridge's winemaking and vine selection decisions are clear and consistent: old vines, low intervention, organic vineyards and a commitment to honesty and quality. You can't argue with that.
One of Ridge's legendary and most-celebrated vineyards, it is, like many other wines in their extensive portfolio, a field blend of old vines. And you'll find that out when you buy it, because each and every action taken in the vineyards and winery is written on the label. This winery is such a tech-nerd haven, that they document everything and then tell you what they have done on the label, from winemaking dates to picking dates to the actual ingredients!
It's a delicious and very special wine.
Region: Santa Cruz Mountains
Grape(s): Petite Sirah
Style: Powerful, Medium Full, Iconic, Elegant, Complex, Broad
Best food matches: Wild Boar, Warm Salads, Venison, Steak, St Stephen's Day, Roasts, Ribs, Red Meats, Poultry, Pork, Mature Cheeses, Lamb, Hard Cheeses, Grills, Game, Fine Dining, Duck, Christmas Dinner, Cheeses, Charcuterie