Two weeks ago I wrote about the courage and vision of the Daou brothers as they moved from bombed out Beirut to Paris to Wall Street success to, with no prior wine production experience, opening a new winery to produce classical Bordeaux style wines smack dab in the middle of Rhone country.
And what a winery! Next time you’re in Paso Robles be sure to stop by. Take a look at views atop what some call Daou Mountain. It’s clichéd and hackneyed to say the setting for a winery is gorgeous or breathtaking or magnificent. The problem for me is that those words actually describe what you’ll encounter at Daou.
Take a look at this photo. The views are almost 360° from the club house-like Visitors Center. Daou offers chaise lounges where you can escape and contemplate all the beauty that is California. They have more than 210 acres to enjoy, with 145 acres planted.
Apart from the vistas offered is the vineyard that is densely planted with high quality clones, including the acclaimed To Kalon. While there are more vines per acre than usual, the yield per acre is quite low, since Daou drops an astonishing 80% of its fruit to assure that only excellent berries are harvested.
And Daou abuses its berries. They are essentially dry farmed, receiving water only when the plant is about ready to go into its death throes.
After picking the fruit, Daou does not press the grapes. They use only free run juice in their wines. The juice sits on the skins for up to three weeks and then aged in only French barrels using the same oak as the Bordeaux First Growth chateaux.
As you would expect from some such exacting viticultural and oenological practices, the wine is not cheap. But, also, it is not unreasonably expensive, especially given the proclivity of some of Daou fellow wineries to demand exorbitant prices.
Terry and I sampled four wines, the 2013 Micho; 2014 Estate Cabernet; 2012 Mayote; and 2013 Soul of a Lion, ranging in price from $65 to $125.
These are intense wines. Don’t expect that you can pop open a bottle fifteen minutes before pouring. Decant it for a minimum of an hour (if not three or four) to allow it to open and become inviting.
The Micho (62% Merlot; 28% Cabernet) is well balanced and yet complex, featuring black berry and spices. It’s named after the brothers’ sister who passed away in 2010.
The 2014 Daou Estate Cabernet is delicious. It’s a lush wine that will age well, allowing for the tannins to fade. Even now you’ll find black fruit, spice, vanilla and licorice notes.
Smoothly elegant and peppery on the nose, the Mayote’s (a blend of Syrah, Cabernet, and Petit Verdot) tannins are less pronounced given its age. You will enjoy the pepper and cherry tastes.
Tasting the Soul of a Lion we found the name aptly used. This is a big Cabernet with about 20% made up of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Another lush, well-balanced offering, this is the wine for that medium rare Ribeye. The blackberry and cherry flavors make for a real treat.