Summer was unusually cool in this warm region. The grapes ripened slowly, but fully, and were crushed into a grid-equipped tank, to hold them submerged during native-yeast fermentation. We pressed on the ninth day, including the press wine for color and structure. Winter’s early onset slowed the uninoculated malolactic fermentation; the wine was moved off its gross lees in April. To achieve natural clarity, we racked every two months thereafter. This exceptional zinfandel comes from Benito Dusi’s most-stressed old vines. It is a wine of wonderful intensity and richness. Acidity is unusually firm, but integrated, providing freshness and accentuating fruit character. It will be enjoyable over the next seven to eight 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: 13 inches (below average)
Bloom: Mid June
Weather: Cool late spring, warm summer; long, warm fall.
Harvest dates: 22 September
Grapes: Average brix 26.7°
Fermentation: 100% submerged cap fermentation; natural primary and secondary. Pressed at nine days.
Aging: Air-dried american oak, 60% one and two years old, and 40% five years old.
Time in barrel: Ten months
Benito Dusi Vineyard grapes, hand harvested. Destemmed and crushed. Fermented on the native yeasts, followed by full malolactic on the naturally occurring bacteria. Minimum effective sulfur (35ppm at crush, 68 ppm over the course of aging). Pad filtered at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
Average Rating: 88.7
No. of Tasting Notes: 76
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