For the 3rd edition, we met up at Ridge's Lytton Springs facility. I'd never been there before, so it was interesting to check out the green building and the old vines. Saw a few familiar faces and met a bunch of new people. These events are a fun way to get an array of perspectives from various wine and food writers.
For a comprehensive write-up, see Richard's entry: http://www.rjonwine.com/2010/10/ridge-lytton-springs-bloggers-tasting-10-vintages-of-lytton-springs-plus-small-format-monte-bello/ And link's to the other entries: http://blog.ridgewine.com/2010/10/08/wine-bloggers-tasting-edition-iii-the-first-posts/
We tasted 10 vintages of Lytton Springs, spanning 21 vintages. That's a good way to compare vintage differences and also get an idea of how the wines evolve over time. We also tried 3 middle-aged Monte Bellos out of half-bottle. I've had so many vintages over the last couple years, but it had been a decade or so since I tried the '91. Back then it was still pretty hard. That vintage is interesting, because while the critics rated it as a typical Monte Bello, there's been a buzz on the wine forums with people rating it as one of the best. The secondary market also reflects this, as the '91 commands a much higher than normal price.
'87 Lytton Springs (Dry Creek Valley) (82% Zinfandel, 13% Carignane, 5% Grenache) Nose - mature dark fruit, showing brambly cherry, rustic and tart, touch of olive, some floral notes. Mature tart black cherry and olive, rose hips and other floral notes. A bit too tart for the maturity of the fruit, which would be easily remedied with food. 86 pts
'92 Lytton Springs (Dry Creek Valley) (88% Zinfandel, 8% Petite Sirah, 4% Grenache) Nose - deep and sharp, dark brooding spicy fruit, bright clean floral notes, creamy, black currant. Deep concentrated black currant, pert, brown spice, mid-palate shows a dusty darkness, mandarin, lime zest. Heady. Finishes with lavender and a touch of bitterness. 90 pts
'93 Lytton Springs (Dry Creek Valley) (85% Zinfandel, 3% Carignane, 2% Alicante, 2% Grenache) Nose - more moderate expression showing a pure berry, yellow cake, nice spice blend from nutmeg to pipe tobacco to fennel, spiced orange tea. Nice point of maturity. Dark berry, orange zest and blossoms, hint of tobacco and dusty spice. 92 pts
'96 Lytton Springs (Dry Creek Valley) (78% Zinfandel, 19% Petite Sirah, 2% Carignane, 1% Grenache) Nose- lovely tobacco and barnyard, blackberry, spice, touch of flan. Lovely dusty tobacco, black currant, lime, peppery bite, touch of blackberry, perfect maturity. Some tobacco and a hint of barnyard on the finish. 92 pts '99 Lytton Springs (Dry Creek Valley) (70% Zinfandel, 17% Petite Sirah, 10% Carignane, 3% Mataro) Nose- deep black currant with a touch of tobacco. Sweet boysenberry with dark dusty notes, nutmeg. Nice interplay of clean youthful fruit, spice and maturity. 91 pts
'07 Lytton Springs (Dry Creek Valley) (71% Zinfandel, 22% Petite Sirah, 7% Carignane) Nose - deep youthful brambly boysenberry, yellow cake, nice oak spice. Deep dark youthful blackberry, Christmas spice, lime zest, dark dusty tannin, yellow cake. 93 pts
'05 Lytton Springs (Dry Creek Valley) (77% Zinfandel, 17% Petite Sirah, 6% Carignane) Nose - really nice deep ethereal quality, full lovely fruit, dried herbs and floral notes. Incredibly complex, deep fruit, lavender, light floral notes, custard, boysenberry. 94 pts
'03 Lytton Springs (Dry Creek Valley) (76% Zinfandel, 18% Petite Sirah, 6% Carignane) Mose - a bit restrained, dense tobacco-y dark fruit, zesty, boysenberry pie, citron, earthy. Dark peppery black currant, tight, saline quality, touch of soy and malasses. Needs time. 90 pts
'02 Lytton Springs (Dry Creek Valley) (75% Zinfandel, 20% Petite Sirah, 5% Carignane) Nose - shy mentholated black currant, deep and sharp, hints of dusty jujube. Pert peppery black currant, blackberry, dried cranberry, touch of sweetness, dusty tannin, violets. Pert, round, slightly bitter finish. Drink '15-'25 92+ pts '01 Lytton Springs (Dry Creek Valley) (76% Zinfandel, 17% Petite Sirah, 7% Carignane) Nose - heady intensity, maturing dark fruit, touch of soy and brown sugar, boysenberry, fennel seed, allspice. Lovely floral zesty boysenberry, allspice, good round berry. Nice. 92 pts
'91 Monte Bello (Santa Cruz Mountains) (85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 5% Petite Verdot) Nose - deep black currant with green bamboo shoot, iodine, touch of cedar, violet and rose, earthy, very concentrated, licorice. Deep concentrated black currant and blackberry, nose follows through. Finishes with licorice, tobacco, cedar, roasted green chiles. Excellent. A bit reminiscent of an old Martin Ray Cab. 95 pts '92 Monte Bello (Santa Cruz Mountains) (80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 9% Petite Verdot) Nose - deep cedary black currant with a higher toned funky tobacco. Classic cedary black currant, touch of iodine and green chile, dark gritty/dusty tannin. 92 pts
'94 Monte Bello (Santa Cruz Mountains) (73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 9% Petite Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc) Nose - deep minty black currant, sultry, licorice and green bamboo. Full black currant/licorice/mint/cedar, good maturity, leathery tannin. Drink now-'25. 93 pts