Rusty Sly: Daou Winery VIP Style

I returned to Paso Robles as an early birthday celebration with a couple of close friends, Larry and Gloria Stahly.  Usually, I go to pick up wines from Turley and visit some of my favorite wineries always adding a couple of new ones which is not difficult with the pace that wineries are going up. However, it’s hard to cover all 300 plus that are in existence right now in the Paso Robles area.  This trip began on Friday, April 5, with a special invitation from the Daou Vineyards Tasting Manager, Sara Johnson, to come for a VIP tasting of their wines.  I believe that everyone knows how much I love this winery and receiving such an invite, who could resist.

Arriving at the Daou tasting room I was greeted warmly as I had on my first trip.  We were then led to their VIP tasting room and introduced to Taryn Claggett who was to be our hostess for the evening.

Their VIP tasting room is a separate area that is fantastic with large tables to accommodate any size party.  They have bread sticks, water and the wine lined up they will be serving  the guests.  We were also surprised with a cheese plate that was spectacular.  It consisted of olives, prosciutto, nuts, fruits and cheeses.  Not just everyday cheese but unique ones which included such favorites as black truffle, brie, cheddar, etc.  This plate is available to guests in the VIP room.

Since I covered most of their wines in my last article, I would like to talk about a couple of special wines that are only available to their club members.   A while back I saw that Daou had released two estate wines.  They were the 2010 Soul of the Lion and the 2010 Mayote.  Daniel Daou (owner/vintner) came by our table and poured the Soul of the Lion.  He went on to explain that this bottle of wine was created and named in honor of his father.  Soul of the Lion is a Meritage (American Bordeaux) consisting of 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc, 8% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot.  The wine is aged 22 months in 100% new French oak.

The nose on this wine is almost sinful with elegant dark fruits.   On the palate, you are met with flavors of dark fruits such as blackberries and blueberries that coat your entire mouth.  On the palate, it is smooth and silky with well integrated tannins.  The finish went on forever.  This wine on the palate shares a mouth feel much like Caymus Select with the added benefit of intense, and I mean intense, fruit flavors.  Daniel Daou says that this wine could age out past 20-30 years.

l-r: Gloria and Larry Stahly, Taryn Claggett

This is a wine that really stands out amongst others,  it’s like going from a Chevrolet to a Ferrari.  It is the kind of wine that I search for to add to my cellar and open with special guests that can appreciate the complex nature and quality that has been put into it.  Wilfred Wong, Bevmo Cellar Master, rated this wine 98 points and said, “One of the great wines of the world, this is just the beginning!!!” I cannot deny.

Daniel then poured the other Estate Reserve Wine called Mayote.  This wine is a unique blending of a typical Northern Rhone varietal of Syrah (53%) with Cabernet Sauvignon (37%) and Petit Verdot (10%) and is aged 22 months in 100% new French oak.  The consensus of our little group also loved this wine,  The nose had spice notes with cranberries with floral in the background.  The palate tasted of plum which was smooth and led to integrated tannins,  a truly balanced wine which Daou has mastered.

Daou is fast tracking to becoming one of the many great wine producers.  In talking with Daniel Daou, they have already purchased and are in the process of planting more grape vines.  My feeling is that this allows him total control of the selected grapes for his wines.  The estate reserve wines show just how much quality he can achieve with estate controlled grapes.

Though Paso Robles is known for its Rhone varietals, it is no secret that some of the wineries are producing great Cabernet Sauvignon wines.  So much so that they are kicking off the inaugural CABs of Distinction events titled, Taste the Passion for Cabernet.  Daniel Daou is an active member of this drive.  It will be held April 26 & 27 in Paso Robles.

In conclusion, I am a firm believer in practicing what you preach.  On this trip, I joined their regular and estate reserve club membership.  Once I returned home, I immediately moved the Soul of the Lion and Mayote to my storage locker so that I can prevent myself from drinking them now.  Same practice I use for other wines that are meant for special occasions.  These wines are awesome.  I cannot wait until Daou releases another unique and memorable wine which now being a club member I am guaranteed to receive and enjoy.


Rusty Sly