Benito Dusi’s eighty-five-year-old vineyard—one of the oldest surviving in Paso Robles—was slow to ripen this season. Most of the grapes were in by the end of September, but the small parcel just east of Beni’s house required another month to intensify flavors. The amount of shriveling visible as the gondolas were tipped into the crusher was evidence of some very ripe fruit. Natural yeasts began fermentation within twelve hours of crush. The skins were held submerged in juice for the six days until dryness, enhancing extraction of color and tannin. Secondary fermentation took six weeks to complete; we then racked to air-dried american oak barrels, a quarter of which were new. Upon blind tasting the finished lots for assemblage, we found that the last-picked grapes best evoked the richness of a typical Dusi. Full body and sweet fruit make this wine immediately appealing; it will be at its best over the next five to 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: 42 inches (above average)
Weather: Wet spring, warm, dry summer and fall.
Harvest dates: 21 October
Grapes: Average brix 25.8°
Fermentation: 100% submerged cap fermentation; natural primary and secondary. Pressed at six days.
Aging: Air-dried american oak, 24% new, 14% one and two years old, and 62% four years old.
Time in barrel: Twelve months
Average Rating: 89.3
No. of Tasting Notes: 64
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