TN: 2008 Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel

It used to be that I waffled over which of the two top Zin-based cuvees I preferred: Geyserville or Lytton Springs. The 2008 vintage was the last of my waffles, come 2009 and after, I was buying less and less of the Lytton. Palate or style, perhaps both, I was starting to find the Lytton over-scaled. I was still buying but far less than the Geyserville. I understand that 2014 may be a scale-back, so I have purchased a handful. The Geyserville is gorgeous.

So here I sit with the 2008. This is damn nice. Not a big blockbuster, but just damn nice, exactly what I want midweek with dinner.

Showing some maturation and evolution. Brambly dark fruits on the nose and palate. Herbal, Indian spice, charcoal, menthol, tobacco, throwing a range of really cool things on me. Some persistence of vanilla. Quite aromatic, too. I love the midweight as well, even the mid-palate is hollowing, seeming to dissipate the weight of the more recent vintages of Lytton. Not sure if this is evolution or the vintage, but the scale is nicely balanced.

(91 pts.)

Everything about that wine sounds groovy – charcoal, menthol, tobacco – but that vanilla note gives me pause. I think you’re a bit more tolerant of oak and funk than I am.

Thank you for the evocative note.

Well Corey, I truly struggle with the American oak, if you have not noticed my posts on this subject over the last couple of years. I clearly have become more sensitive to American oak, but Ridge has also been increasing its use on many of its cuvees at least through 2013. I think the next two vintages have seen less new American oak at least in the cuvees that I follow, but I would need to re-check for certainty. Here the vanilla is a note, but in check, not a distractor. Candidly, I wish it did not exist, but that is nit-picking, which is actually reflected in my score.

To be clear, my comment about oak wasn’t a criticism of your palate. I wish I could be a bit more tolerant, but sometimes I detect a vanilla note and then it’s all I can seemingly taste. I find it very distracting.

Now if the oak is presenting itself as spice or even dill, I’m usually ok if it’s in moderation.

Ridge could be my only exception.

I generally will not buy wine matured in American oak. I own very little Rioja, yet take away the American oak, and the wine is dead smack in my wheelhouse.

I grew up on Ridge, perhaps I remain a sucker for the vestiges of my past. But, it is my guilty pleasure. I am a sucker for Ridge.

Take away Bordeaux, and you will find that many of my annual buys are wines that see very little-to-no new oak. And certainly not American oak.

Great note, thanks. Thoughts on further aging?

Nice note, thanks. A general comment: I think Ridge LS and Geyserville absorb American oak better than most other wines/varietals.

Pat, I agree.

Scott, hard to tell for sure, but next 3-5 for optimal drinking.

Great note, great wine.

I still drink their zins from the 70’s and they are lovely. Aging window = forever!

I also like 'Merican oak. It’s a bit “brambly,” in a fun way.

Thanks for the note, well done!

American oak just kills it for me. Too many dissonant notes that stick out like sore thumbs.

That said, while I drink very little zin, when I do, I won’t turn down a Ridge.

If you like Ridge in general, I wouldn’t worry about any tasting note that mentions vanilla. Literally almost any Ridge wine could match that. It’s just one person’s description of a familiar profile.

Ridge wines are often marked by oak but for whatever reason they appeal to many people who don’t generally like heavily oaked wines. That description fits me, and I’m even aware of the oak when I drink Ridge, but it still works.

May I ask what you ate with it, Robert? Curious about the pairing.

Ridge wines are more often than not well made and speak of their California origin. Too much oak for me. That does not mean they are not quality wines. [cheers.gif]

Thanks for the note, Robert!!

I am still waffling between the two. However, a few years ago I stopped being in their ATP program because I wanted to buy more of these two Zins and less of others.

I often wonder how far away you are from becoming a Burg lover.

Ha, you know you’ve said that to me several times before, right?! I actually do like Burgs, my problem is that they tend to be mature and stupid expensive ones. I’m just refraining from going down the path. I do have some nice Village Burgs.

Village Burgs are the sweet spot these days. Used to be premier crus, but they are getting more expensive.

Tried the 14’s side by side at the winery a couple of months after the first comparison and the Geyserville swept it for all three of us. Gorgeous is about right.

I’m surprised at the oak comments. According to the winemaking notes for this wine, it saw 20% new oak, 55% 1/2/3 year old, 20% 4/5 year old. More recent vintages are less new (2015 was 15% new, 45% 1/2/3 year old). Compared to the Monte Bello (pretty much 100% new), this is pretty tame (and even Monte Bello is mild, for my tastes, in contrast to so many Napa Cabs that are just hammered by oak).