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Ridge Lytton Springs 2017

Ridge Lytton Springs 2017

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"Ridge's 2017 Lytton Springs opens up beautifully, with bright acids that drive a whole range of red/purplish fruit intermingled with floral notes. Creamy and ample in feel, the 2017 boasts superb balance and pedigree. Readers lucky enough to owe it should plan on cellaring it for at least a few years. Drinking window: 2025-2042. 94 points

A visit to Ridge is always a highlight to any trip to the Santa Cruz Mountains. Among other things, Ridge keeps a fairly extensive library of older wines, some of which later become re-releases, which provides a great opportunity to see how some of the flagship wines develop over time. Speaking specifically about the wines from the Santa Cruz Mountains, Winemaker Eric Baugher commented "2017 was a really cool vintage until those Labor Day heat spikes. Frankly, we needed that burst of heat to get fully ripe up here." As for the wines, they are truly beautiful across the board. In whites, readers will find a new Grenache Blanc from the Adelaide estate in Paso Robles. The 2017 Chardonnay Estate is an intriguing pre-cursor to the Monte Bello Chardonnay, which is not released yet. The 2017 Zinfandel and Zinfandel-based wines are all incredibly delicious, with Lytton Springs leading the way. Among the Bordeaux reds, the 2016 Monte Bello is epic, while the 2017 is extremely promising and the 2018 young, but all finesse. The wine I want to call readers' attention to most, though, is Ridge's Cabernet Sauvignon Estate, the little brother of Monte Bello, which is also one of the single greatest values in California Cabernet Sauvignon."

Antonio Galloni, Vinous (10/19)

In case you are not already familiar with Ridge's emblematic wines, the main production is red, focusing on Zinfandel. Way back in the early 1960s, they produced some of the first old-vine, single-vineyard Zinfandel to appear on the market: in fact, the philosophy of this estate owes a great deal to  European views of terroir and was, therefore, very forward-looking for California.

The contrast between Lytton Springs and Geyserville is marked and profound, especially considering that the vineyards are just one mile apart! Lytton is generally the more unyielding and tannic whereas Geyserville is succulent and approachable. This difference is down to terroir and the fact that Geyserville contains more Carignan in the blend, which contributes to the warm fruit quality. Lytton, on the other hand, although also predominantly Zinfandel, has a higher proportion of Petite Sirah. What is interesting too is the fact that Carignan does not flourish in the Lytton vineyard and never has done: the Geyserville vineyards, though further North, are warmer and this favours Carignan. The flagship wine, Monte Bello (produced from vines grown on the Monte Bello ridge (see above) - too cool for Zinfandel but perfect for the more architectural Bordeaux varieties) is a Bordeaux field blend with at least thirty parcels harvested and vinified separately before blending. 

Ridge's wines also epitomise the positive value of history, the importance of consistency and the constant search for improvement by the fine-tuning of the relationship between the art and science of winemaking. Paul Draper, the iconic CEO, has been making wine here since 1969 when he was invited to join by the four founders. Eric Baugher, who has a background in microbiology and biochemistry and who now oversees production, has been there since 1994. John Olney, who is responsible for Lytton Springs, joined in 1996 and David Gates, who is in charge of vineyard operations, in 1989. In January 1987, Ridge was sold to a Japanese pharmaceutical company, Otsuka, but, as Antonio Galloni said, the wines have gone from strength to strength and any change in financial control has not resulted in quality being compromised. On the contrary, these wines represent excellent value for money and we cannot recommend them highly enough.