San Louis Obispo County
Deep garnet color. Aromas of ripe black cherry, plum, toasted oak, caramel. On entry: mincemeat, plum, old-vine pepper spice. Firm acid, defined tannins in an intense finish.
Beni Dusi’s ninety-year-old vineyard ripened block by block from September 5 through October 16. The grapes were destemmed, crushed, and pumped to tanks fitted with grids that hold the skins submerged. Natural-yeast fermentations were slow, delaying pressing until day ten. Malolactics, however, finished quickly, allowing assemblage, and an early rack to barrel to begin aging. For natural clarification, we racked quarterly as the lees settled. This classic, warm-region zinfandel is enjoyable now. It will be at its best over the next five to six years. EB (9/13)
The Benito Dusi Ranch is the only vineyard in the Central Coast Viticultural Area from which we source grapes. Our Monte Bello vineyards are in the Santa Cruz Mountains Viticultural Area which is not in the Central Coast. The 1967 vintage was our first wine from this vineyard. It was planted to zinfandel in 1923 which is unusual because Prohibition had started two years earlier. Purchased by Sylvester and Catarina Dusi in 1924, the property has been farmed since the 1940s by their son Benito, the owner.
Rainfall: 12 inches (below average)
Bloom: Early May
Weather: Almost ideal conditions, dry summer and fall.
Harvest Dates: 5 September – 6 October
Grapes: Average Brix 25.5
Fermentation: 100% natural primary and secondary fermentation. 100% submerged cap; pressed at ten days
Barrels: 100% air-dried american oak barrels (25% new, 7% two years old, 34% three and 34 % four years old)
Aging: Eleven months in barrel
Benito Dusi Vineyard grapes, hand harvested. Destemmed and crushed. Fermented on the native yeasts, followed by full malolactic on the naturally occurring bacteria. A total of 1.3 percent rehydration (added to two of seven fermentors during fermentation). Minimum effective sulfur (35ppm at crush, 113 ppm over the course of aging). Oak from barrel aging. Pad filtered at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions. Ingredients: Hand harvested grapes, indigenous yeasts, naturally occurring malolactic bacteria, 1.3% water addition, oak from barrel aging, minimum effective SO2.
Wine & Spirits (August 2014) – “Ridge has bottled zin from the Benito Dusi Ranch — planted in 1922 on the warm, gravelly hills south of the town of Paso Robles — since the 1967 vintage. In 2012, it’s a red with both raw power and surprising detail, the aromas oscillating between cured meat, black spice and brighter floral tones. The fruit feels full to the point of bursting, yet there’s sophistication to the structure, the tannins fine and mineral and alive — speaking to a resonant match of variety, site and soil amplified by vine age. It’s utterly Californian, a grand and sunny red to open when you’ve got a good enough reason to roast a whole lamb.” (Rated: 94)
California Grapevine (Vol. 40, June 2014): “Medium to medium-dark ruby; attractive, ripe red and dark berry fruit aroma with briary notes and hints of dill and mint; full body; briary, spicy, dark cherry and raspberry fruit flavors with good depth and balance; medium-full to full tannin; lingering aftertaste. Enjoyable to drink now. Very highly recommended.”
(Group Score: 16.3 of 20 points, 2/5/2; My Score: 17 (91/100), third place)
Wine Advocate (Issue 215, October 2014): “The 2012 Zinfandel Benito Dusi Ranch (a 90-year-old parcel) is a big, boisterous effort (14.8% natural alcohol) that is best drunk in its first 4-6 years of life. An earthy, spicy, peppery, meaty, full-bodied wine, it exhibits lots of dark brambleberry and briary fruit in a fleshy, straightforward, succulent, tasty style.” (Rated: 90)
Wine Spectator Insider (16 April 2014): “An old-school style, briary and full of zesty fruit. The aromas of bright cherry, grilled herb and fresh earth lead to smoky plum and cracked pepper flavors that linger toward ripe tannins. Drink now through 2020.”-Tim Fish (Rated: 90)
Wine Enthusiast (June 2014) – “This 100% Zin comes from one of Paso Robles’ most famous vineyards. The briary blackbery and mulberry flavors are very ripe, veering into chcolate-covered raisins. Although the alcohol is high, the wine pulls it all off, never losing its balance. Above all, it’s a delight to drink now. Barbecue and short ribs come to mind as great partners.” -Steve Heimoff (Rated: 90)
Average Rating: 89.5
No. of Tasting Notes: 78
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