Heat 1 1/2 qts. water, the bay leaves, and peppercorns in a large pot until boiling. Remove from heat and stir in wine, salt, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and the zest of 1 lemon. Nest pan in a sink of ice water and let brine cool. Add pork to brine. Chill at least 4 and up to 12 hours.
Drain meat, rinse, pat dry, and set on a platter or baking sheet. In a bowl, mix oil, thyme, ground pepper, remaining 2 tsp. brown sugar, and the zest of 1 lemon. Pat mixture onto both sides of meat, pressing it in. Let meat stand at room temperature.
Heat grill to medium (350° to 450°). Heat a large cast-iron griddle, 12-in. paella pan, or 2 large cast-iron skillets on cooking grate with grill lid down until water dances when sprinkled on cooking surface, 8 to 10 minutes.
Set chops on griddle and cook with grill lid down, turning once, until meat is well browned and done the way you like, 8 to 10 minutes total for medium-rare (cut to test). Transfer to a platter.
*Crack peppercorns in a mortar, or seal in a plastic bag and smash with a rolling pin. Rib chops come from the rib end of the loin; if they aren't already frenched (some meat trimmed from the bone ends to make the chops look neater), ask a butcher to do it, or do it yourself by sliding a sharp knife along the bones.