DAOU Vineyards was next on our list of wineries that I had selected for Jordan and Natasha Siperstein. The DAOU staff welcomed us, as they do all of their guests, with open arms. Lisa Colwell (Assistant Tasting Room Manager) introduced herself and led us to a beautiful private tasting room that was set for a king. I could see the eyes on my two young guests light up to the views from the tasting room and presentation that DAOU had put in place for us. This tasting room is circular in design with windows allowing a full view of the beautiful Paso Valley. It is a breath taking view that is to die for. Someday I would like to be at DAOU in the evening, sitting on one of their outside patios with one of their fantastic wines and watch the sunset. DAOU has future plans will be to have villas on the mountain for members to stay in which I know will be spectacular, as is everything they do.
After getting settled, Lisa asked what we would like to do for our wine tasting adventure. Being that my guests are young and new to this type of experience I asked if we could sample the entire line of DAOU wines that are currently available. I also asked Lisa if chef, Isaac Werre, was making anything special for lunch. Lisa informed us that he was preparing a Braised Beef Potato Puree and also a Lemon and Oyster Rockefeller with local Porcini on sour dough toast. This set the afternoon for an experience to remember. Jordan and I ordered the Oysters Rockefeller and Tracy and Natasha ordered the Braised Beef. The common in both of the lunches is that they were topped with kumquats…whether you had the beef or the oysters it was fabulous.
The lunch also came with a glass of one of their selected wines. While Lisa placed our lunch order she began pouring and explaining the wines for the tasting. The wine list was extensive and consisted of:
· 2011 Viognier – 100% Viognier
· 2012 Chardonnay
· 2012 Grenache Blanc
· 2012 Chemin De Fleurs – 53% Grenache Blanc, 35% Roussanne, 12% Viognier
· 2011 Micho – 60% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon
· 2011 Celestus – 59% Syrah, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot
· 2011 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot, 9% Petit Verdot
· 2011 Reserve Seventeen Forty – 70% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot
· 2011 Reserve AUX – 61% Syrah, 39% Grenache
· 2011 Reserve Zinfandel – 100% Zinfandel
DAOU has their wines classified in three different categories. The Paso Robles Collection, the Reserve Collection and their Estate Collection. In France, Grand Cru wines are the top wines and are made with special care in
grape selection and production. This same practice is followed in the production of the DAOU Estate Collection which Daou considers to be their Grand Cru wines. This shows Daniel Daou’s French background in wine production. Presently, the Estate Collection only lists two wines, the 2010 Mayote and 2010 Soul of the Lion. I am sure Daniel has more surprises hidden away for future Estate wines. Both estate wines are currently out of stock, not surprising based on recent reviews! The 2010 Soul of the Lion received a rating of 96 points. Robert Parker’s publication awarded the Soul of a Lion the highest rating they have ever given to any Cabernet or Bordeaux blend in Paso Robles. Mayote received a 94-point rating. These are not the only wines from DAOU to get high ratings, many of their other wines are also in the 90+ point range. What a fantastic way to introduce Jordan and Natasha to what I term as excellent wines and as for the staff they are top notch, just like the wines.
We left DAOU to our final destination, Denner Winery thanks to the invitation of Larry and Gloria Stahly who are members there. Denner is an icon in Paso, producing spectacular limited allocation wines. Denner’s wines are so highly demanded that they are no longer open to the general public for tasting and visits. It is by member only and the waiting list is long but definitely worth the wait. Denner is another beautiful winery that is very quaint and customer oriented. Just to throw in a little trivia, the owner of Denner Winery, Ron Denner, owned several successful Ditch Witch dealerships. His road to success is proclaimed by giving his wines names such as Dirt Worshipper and Ditch Digger. Denner is also one of those wineries where you are treated first class. You sit down at a table, either inside or outside, and the staff come and pour their lineup of wines table side. No one is rushed and the atmosphere, like Daou, is fantastic. They have cheese plates available to enjoy while you sample the fine wines with a nice assortment that can easily serve as a light lunch. The wines that I have tasted over the years from Denner have always been first class. What is even more amazing is their vintner, Anthony Yount, is only 25 years old. This young man has a future ahead of him. Denner wines are primarily Rhone Varietals common to the Paso region. In a recent LA Times article Anthony said, “I think the grapes that will be [Paso Robles’] benchmarks are Mourvèdre and Grenache There’s a lot of Syrah here, and we can make slutty Syrah—it’s ripe, people like it. But when you compare the Syrah we can do here to the Syrah in the northern Rhone, it’s not the same. The Mourvèdre [here] can be world-class.” I found this statement interesting as Mourvèdre and Grenache are excellent from this region but I also enjoy many Syrah wines from Paso Robles. Many vintners from the area produce some great Syrah blends. The 2010 Syrah from J. Dusi Vineyards was spectacular. I agree that California Syrahs are quite different being fruit forward when compared to Syrahs from Northern Rhone where the weather is much colder and the wines are more subtle and integrated with the fruits. I enjoy both styles depending on my mood. Each have a different profile but neither is right or wrong. Here is the list of wines sampled at Denner Winery:
· 2012 Viognier – 100% Viognier
· 2012 Theresa – 50% Roussanne, 25% Grenache Blanc, 20% Picpoul, 5% Marsanne
· 2011 Dirt Worshipper – 95% Syrah, 5% Viognier
· 2011 Ditch Digger – 40% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre, 10% Cinsaut, 5% Counoise
· 2010 Mother of Exiles – 60% Cabernet, 30% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot
· 2010 Syrah – 100% Syrah
· 2012 Rose – 40% Grenache, 20% Mouvedre, 20% Cinsault, 10% Carignan, 10% Counoise
My two all time favorite wines from Denner Winery are Ditch Digger and Mother of Exiles. For Jordan and Natasha, I feel they enjoyed the entire ambiance and quality of all of the wines that Denner does so well..
This trip was a lot of fun for me. Introducing young people such as Jordan and Natasha Siperstein to such fantastic wineries that I love and to be able to share my passion with them was an honor. Seeing the enjoyment from the friendly family environment of J. Dusi Vineyard and having Janell Dusi personally share her fantastic wines with Jordan and Natasha will be memorable. Follow this up with a taste of the old world wines of Tablas Creek where you can enjoy Rhone varietals made in an old world style but using California grown grapes was a real treat. Then to be invited to Daou Mountain where they were provided with the first class friendly environment that they are known for, not to mention the memorable lunch created by DAOU’s Chef, Issac Werre. Wow! The wines were spectacular and Lisa tended to our every need for the entire wine experience. Last but not least, thanks to Larry and Gloria Stahly both Jordan and Natasha were able to taste the fantastic wines of Denner Winery. Denner’s wines, along with having a beautiful hill top view that can be enjoyed inside or out is bar none. Fantastic day of tasting. Thank you J. Dusi, Tablas Creek, DAOU and Denner. I was honored that you all took such good care of my guests.