Janell and Dante Dusi
This year has been good to me. I have great friends that I share my passion of wines as well as new wineries that I have come to feel close to as if I am part of their family. One such winery is Daou, which I have written many articles on. Their success is definitely gaining recognition. Another such winery is J. Dusi, also gaining recognition in Paso Robles. The Dusi Vineyards has been an icon in the Paso region since the mid 1940’s. It is a quaint family run organization where you will still be greeted by Janell’s mother and grandmother. Keeping the same tradition that they had prior to acquiring the Edward Sellars Vineyard and Tasting Room, all guests are still given a small barrel stave with fruits, nuts and crackers when they visit. Janell told me her mom insisted that they keep this practice in their new tasting room and I am glad they did.
In the old days they were primarily sourcing grapes to other vineyards that would produce wines under that winery’s label. Then came the young energetic granddaughter, Janell, who convinced the family to produce their own wines. From what I was told, she started by making a few barrels which has grown into the major production they have today. It is no secret that she is an artist that will continue to grow. Dusi grapes have always received high accolades and been sought after by many wineries. Now that they are producing their own wines they have earned even more respect in the wine community.
One wine that really blew my mind was J. Dusi’s 2010 Caterina’s Vineyard Syrah. Ever since my first taste I could not get enough of this wine. The last time I enjoyed a Syrah like this was Alban Reva Syrah released in 2007 reaching a 96 pt rating from Parker. What I liked about J. Dusi’s Syrah was that it was not overly fruity like many of the California and Australian versions. After buying many and enjoying a couple of this 2010 wine I had to see if I was correct in my assessment. For Thanksgiving my wife and I had George and Jennifer Skorka over to our house. George has been my idle/mentor since I met him. He is extremely knowledgeable on wines holding credentials as a Grand Sommelier. I have met many people that refer to themselves as sommelier’s but not many can come even close to George in experience or knowledge about wines. He analyzes all of the variables of the wine before giving his comments, as any professional would do, no matter what their field of expertise is. After tasting this wine George gave his critique:
“If you like wines, many times it is hard to separate what we like or what it is supposed to be. What the differences are between potential and just accidental or hidden components, harmony or many times unfulfilled dreams in elements that are very pure and inspiring. Wine making is just like dating. Some look for momentary fulfillment, others seek for expression or mirroring the concept of the good wine which always must reflect on its varietal that it comes from, its place and just a little bit or not all of the winemaker’s personal input. So the good wine is the summary of all the individual components and the wine maker when he or she is good, is capable to emphasize, just like a conductor on the genius of music writing, which is in this case, earth and the result in our glass can be the memorable experience.
Dusi Syrah is a rich-filled, developing individual wine. It has great potential to belong to the messenger of the specimen instead of the commercial beauty of the varietal. The wine has a strong mineral field on the nose and on the palate. Concentrated enough to be of quality, and has its varietal correct ingredients in order, to call the wine a good bottle. On the positive note, it doesn’t have over ripe tones, out of balance oak components, thick leathery texture etc…I assume in the future, knowing the winemaker’s previous work, these nice ‘red forest’ flavors will associate with more nuanced representative components like bacon fat, soft but pronounced tannin, and slightly higher acid which bring this Syrah into the great representative of this varietal in California, instead of being a great red wine in California.”
Now that J. Dusi has purchased the former Edward Sellars Vineyard and Tasting Room I am curious if we will see some beautiful Rhone varietals that Edward was known for from those vineyards. The bottom line is this is just the beginning of Janell’s adventure and I definitely can’t wait to see what other fantastic wines she produces. Her Zinfandels already have recognition and she is now producing various blends – that in my eyes are great. J. Dusi has made her mark in Paso Robles and in my opinion is a winery to watch for more great things to come.