A long growing season and god-sized crop pushed harvest into early October for the eighty-year-old vines whose fruit makes up the Dusi bottling. Natural-yeast fermentation began quickly, and finished within six days. Unusually small, thick-skinned berries imparted deep color; as usual, both first and second press wines were included for additional richness and complexity. The natural malolactic fermentation was complete by December, allowing the lots to be assembled early. During spring rack, when each barrel is decanted off its lees, we increased the total number of new oak barrels to thirty percent, giving better definition to the wine’s opulent fruit. Enjoyable now, this full-bodied zinfandel will be at its best over the next five or six years.
The zinfandel on this Paso Robles ranch was planted in 1923. It was purchased soon after by Sylvester and Catarina Dusi, who raised three sons there—Guido, Dante, and Benito. When Guido and Dante went to war in 1944, vineyard cultivation was left to Sylvester and young Benito—eleven years old at the time. Beni, as his many friends call him, maintained the vines from then on. Ridge’s long relationship with Beni and the Dusi vineyard began when Dave Bennion— scouting the area in 1967—knocked on the Dusis’ door and asked to buy five tons of grapes.
Rainfall: Fifty percent above normal
Bloom: Late May
Weather: Very cool spring, warm summer.
Harvest dates: 5 September – 2 October
Grapes: Average brix 26.8°
Fermentation: 100% submerged cap fermentation; natural primary and secondary. Pressed at six days.
Aging: Air-dried american oak, 30% new, 70% two years old.
Time in barrel: Twelve months
Average Rating: 88.7
No. of Tasting Notes: 44
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