2010 Benito Dusi Vineyard Zinfandel
Zinfandel •Benito Dusi Vineyard
California: Paso Robles
Love & Rockets
Today’s wine is offered to you with our boldest recommendation! Be sure to read lower down for a very special winemaker interview, in which we interview the widow of winemaker Romeo Zuech, who passed away earlier this year.
Here at Wine Spies HQ we try to keep the hyperbole to a minimum, but today’s wine is really worth crowing about!
Today’s Piedra Creek 2010 Benito Dusi Vineyard Zinfandel really is one of the juiciest, most balanced and delicious Zins we’ve shown - in the last several years! Sorry to Ridge, who lost this wonderful vineyard source to Piedra Creek - who seems to have made magic with the fruit.
Our entire tasting panel flipped out when they experienced this bold, jammy, concentrated and delicious!! The wine is very, very fragrant and bursting with aromas of blackberry jam, cassis, plum, black cherry, leather, sweet tobacco, bramble, spice box and toasty oak.
As potent on the palate as the nose portends, this wine is packed with flavors of blackberry juice, black cherry preserve, red plum, red currant, spice box, dusty bramble, braised Santa Rosa plum, raspberry jam, sweet tobacco leaf, chocolate covered cherry and toasty oak.
The historic Benito Dusi Vineyard was planted in 1923, entirely to Zinfandel. Their dedication to this varietal through so many decades, coupled with their passion and care for their grapes is apparent in today’s wine. Another winery that buys the stupendous Dusi fruit is Ridge Vineyards, who has been making a Dusi Ranch Zinfandel since 1967. Ridge’s Dusi Zin sells for about $40. Today’s wine, which we have to say is the more exciting wine, is yours for way less… today only.
After tasting the Benito Dusi Zin, our Agent Red felt compelled to write to the winery just to say…. WOW! What a wine! The Winemaker Interview was once a regular feature of ours, years ago, and Agent Red is bringing it back for today’s very special wine. If you enjoy reading these interviews, please send Red an email @ firstname.lastname@example.org to let him know.
Note: Sadly, winemaker Romeo Zuech passed away earlier this year. His widow, Margaret Zuech generously stepped in to answer our questions.
AGENT RED: Greetings, Margaret. We are thrilled to be showing your Piedra Creek 2010 Benito Dusi Vineyard Zinfandel today. This Zin is one of the best that I’ve tasted in a long time! We’re honored that you could spend some time with us today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives.
MARGARET: Hi, Red. I believe I can answer these questions pretty much as Romeo would have, as we are ”a hands on winery” and worked side-by-side for 35+ years. Romeo learned winemaking from his grandmother, co-founder, Margaret C. Zuech
RED: Thanks so much. Tell me, was there a specific experience in Rudy’s life that inspired his love of wine?
MARGARET: Romeo was born in Italy where wine is treated and respected as a food, and so was exposed to it at an early age.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced Romeo’s winemaking style?
MARGARET: Romeo enjoyed good Zinfandel from the time he came to this country, and so was influenced to make a good Zinfandel. He started as a home winemaker in 1970 with Benito Dusi grapes, and became very good friends with Benito. He won a number of Home Winemaker awards with these grapes, and so continued to produce the wine commercially. He believed if he didn’t like it himself, there was no point in offering it to someone else.
RED: Who do Romeo make wine for?
MARGARET: Mostly for himself. His motto was “I try to make good wine because I don’t want to drink my mistakes”.
RED: Nice! Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
MARGARET: It comes from the Benito Dusi Vineyard in Paso Robles. The vines are over 100 years old, head pruned and dry farmed. It is made in the European Style vs. the heavier, heady Zins that are usually produced in Paso Robles. It is picked at optimum sugar (23 to 25 Brix) which gives it an alcohol of around 14 to 15%. It is fermented dry (takes about 7 to 10 days) and immediately pressed and put into stainless steel tanks to retain the fruit forward flavor. After it settles a few weeks, it is put in to hybrid barrels of half American Oak and half French Oak for approximately 10 months.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
MARGARET: Any type of Italian tomato sauce dish, big game or pizza.
RED: In your opinion, what makes Paso Robles so special?
MARGARET: The climate is ideal for Zinfandel. The hot days and cooler nights make for optimal ripeness and an early harvest.
RED: And how about the Benito Dusi Vineyard?
MARGARET: A personal relationship with the owner for over 40 years doesn’t hurt. Benito likes to see his name on the bottle so he makes sure we get the grapes we want. We go out to the vineyard just before harvest to check the ripeness, and continue the relationship throughout the year.
RED: I’ve tasted Ridge’s Dusi Zin. Why is yours so much better?
MARGARET: Since the grapes are usually picked within days of each other, I guess it’s the style of the winemaker. Maybe the difference in quantity makes it easier to control.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
MARGARET: In 2015 we gave the winery over to the care of our grandson, T.J. de Jony. T.J. helped in the vineyard and winery from the time he was a young boy and so learned from his grandfather. Romeo remained active in the winery and vineyard until his death. T.J. gave him the title of CWO – Chief Worry Officer… and he was! He continued to taste barrel samples and advise on each step.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
MARGARET: First and foremost: ENJOY. Drink what you like and don’t be concerned about if it tastes like berries or pepper or anything else. It’s a GRAPE and should taste like grapes.
RED: Great advice. Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
MARGARET: Another of Romeo’s sayings was: The first duty of a wine is to be RED. White wine is for drinking on Sunday morning after church. Rudy was an actual rocket scientist, and a a phrase that he became known for within the Edna Valley was “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to make a great wine, but it sure doesn’t hurt”.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about Romeo – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
Ultra dark purple, with a ring of fine garnet that encircles the wine.
Blackberry jam, cassis, plum, black cherry, leather, sweet tobacco, bramble, spice box and toasty oak.
Blackberry juice, black cherry preserve, red plum, red currant, spice box, dusty bramble, braised Santa Rosa plum, raspberry jam, sweet tobacco leaf, chocolate covered cherry and toasty oak.
Incredibly long and very flavorful. As the very juicy fruit flavors begin to fade, bramble and spice become more pronounced. As these finally fade too, the palate is left with a coating of chocolate covered cherry and a hint of oak. Plush tannins then take hold, adding an easy dryness that compels you to take another juicy sip!
Enjoy this wine with grilled red meats, a plate of saucy pork ribs, a great big burger, a mountain of meat pasta…. You get this idea!!
What the Winery Says
- Romeo Zuech
- Paso Robles
- 192 cases