Lytton Springs is a formidable wine, made consistently since 1972, where the Russian River and Alexander Valley appellations meet. Made up of about 32 different parcels, the wine is made in each different parcel and then blended to make the wine in its classic form. Classically layered, deep, and toasty, with blackberry, pepper and licorice notes, full-bodied with ripe plum flavours and well integrated tannins and long, lingering finish.
As it ages, there are mature fruit flavours, currants and leather that develop, along with the herbaceous and gamey features from the Mediterranean grapes. It's a real treat. Antonio Galloni write this: "The 2018 Lytton Springs is magnificent. Elegant, layered and so complete, the 2018 has a lot to offer, but it needs time to fully come together. Sweet red cherry, red plum, blood orange, spice, mint and rose petal open up in the glass. Bright acids and beams of tannin give the wine its vibrant energy. Readers should plan on cellaring the 2018 for at least a few years. Wow!"
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 uncoverings 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 wines, this is the second-longest running Zinfandel-based wine that Ridge have made. Just like many other wines in their extensive portfolio, it is a field blend of old vines; it's simply that Zinfandel is the largest component. The exact proportions and contents changes depending on vintage quality, but the wine retains remarkable consistency from year to year, each time showing the vineyard character that is Lytton Springs. For 2018 the make up is 72% Zinfandel, 18% Petite Sirah, 8% Carignane, 2% Mataro. 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.
2018 ratings are as follow:
96 Points – Erin Brooks, The Wine Advocate
96 Points – Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media
94 Points (Cellar Selection) – Wine Enthusiast
93 Points – Zinfandel Chronicles
92 Points – Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com
91 Points – Connoisseurs’ Guide
Region: Santa Cruz Mountains
Grape(s): Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Carignan
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