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Daou's Soul of a Lion, above, is the winery's higher-end cabernet sauvignon. Photo via Facebook
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Taste of Wine: Cardiff’s Waverly wows for Daou winemaker dinner

The Waverly is one of Cardiff-by-the-Sea’s latest coastal restaurants and is located in the Cardiff Town Center next to Seaside Market.

The start of summer, drawing down of COVID-19 and Waverly’s hip décor featuring swank art, lighting, and a beautiful bar, created an electrifying atmosphere for a recent Daou Family Estates Wine Dinner narrated by Proprietor and Master Winemaker Daniel Daou.

Senior Editor Frank Mangio and I were on hand for the festivities.

In chatting with others at the dinner, everyone agreed, Waverly had an energetic vibe and amazing food rivaling high-end Los Angeles restaurants.

It was a perfect venue for the sold-out Winemaker Dinner. Daou also had three other nights of winemaker dinners all sold out as well with two nights at Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club and one night at Waverly’s sister restaurant, The Kettner Exchange, also in the SDCM group owned and operated by Matthew Spencer.

Besides being a phenomenal master winemaker, Daniel Daou is one of the most approachable and down-to-earth persons I have ever met. His love of family, friends, and passion for quality winemaking excellence is unmatched.

Daou also happens to be a great storyteller at winemaker dinners. It was an extra special evening with Daou beaming ear to ear with two of his children in attendance, Katherine Daou, Daou Family Estates social media manager & brand ambassador, along with son Joseph Daou, who is studying viticulture at the University of Washington.

The Daou Family Estate Wine Dinner menu at The Waverly in Cardiff. Photo via Facebook

Dinner started with salmon tartare paired with the 2019 Sauvignon Blanc. With its minerality and natural acidity, the sauv blanc well complemented the capers and tarragon in the tartare.

The second course was Ricotta Agnolotti in an onion broth with a gruyere focaccia crostini over the dish.

This was served with the 2018 Bodyguard that Daou referred to as, “approachable luxury.”

Bodyguard is named after Daniel and brother George’s mother who always protected the boys from their Lebanese war-torn roots including when a missile hit the Daou household when the boys were young resulting in the family moving to France and where he fell in love with wine.

During his narration, Daou shared how he cherished his time with his father Joseph and Georges while growing up in France before he and Georges migrated to the US.

The petit Verdot (59%)/petite Sirah Bodyguard blend with blackberry, raspberry, currant nose and vibrant flavors of cherry, cranberry, and blueberry along with polished tannins is in fact a great value wine at $50 and well deserved of its “approachable luxury” moniker.

The third course was a bigeye tuna Nicoise salad with Sungold tomatoes, egg, and olive dressing.

The 2019 Reserve Chardonnay pairing with its perfect fruit and oak balance had grapefruit and peach on the nose and palate showcasing the salad’s ingredients along with a creamy mouthfeel and finish.

Braised short ribs with carrots, potato puree, and turnips and paired with 2018 DAOU Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Photo by Frank Mangio

The main course featured fork split Braised Short Ribs with carrots, potato puree, and turnips and was matched with the 2018 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.

Like all the Daou Bordeaux cab sauvs, the Reserve is a shining example of world-class cabernet sauvignon from Paso Robles, with its opaque purple ink color highlighting the fruit quality in Daou wines with off-the-chart color phenolics due to the terroir of Daou Mountain at 2,200-feet and calcareous soil.

Higher-end Daou cab sauvs, such as Soul of a Lion, have color phenolics up to 250 parts per million (ppm) and luxury Patrimony cabernet sauvignon achieves 350-500ppm.

“The terroir of Daou Mtn and winemaking techniques have resulted in our flagship Soul of a Lion outselling all Napa Valley blue-chip wines except for Opus One,” Daou said.

The Reserve cab had blackberry with hints of chocolate on the nose, ripe dark cherry and spice on the palate, and a lingering smooth tannin finish.

This perfectly complemented the braised rib sauce.  Dinner concluded with rich chocolate gelato and marshmallow sauce served alongside Daou Dessert wine offering cassis, cedar and floral aroma along with blackberry and cola notes on the palate.

Great Dinner. Great Food. Great Vibe! Congrats Waverly Team and Daou for a memorable evening! Frank and I look forward to doing a full review of Wavery soon! See details at and

Perfect Father’s Day Gifts at Daou Family Estates

Looking for an extra special Father’s Day gift for wine-loving fathers? Daou Family Estates has you covered with a collection of wine gift sets.

Many include the newly released Daou 2018 Soul of a Lion 2018. Daniel and Georges Daou dedicated Soul of a Lion to their late father Joseph Daou.

When life got tough, Joseph would encourage the boys to have the “Soul of a Lion.”

One of the most popular gift sets includes a 2018 Soul of a Lion 750ml, Lion’s Head Pourer, and Luxury Gift Box with complimentary shipping. There is a wide selection of gifts ranging from $85 to $800 and gift cards starting at $25. Details at

Tech Director/Writer Rico Cassoni

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. View his columns at Reach him at [email protected].