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DAOU co-proprietor and master winemaker Daniel Daou is flanked by senior editor Frank Mangio, left, and tech director/writer Rico Cassoni. Photo by Rico Cassoni
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Taste of Wine: DAOU is building a new world wine culture

With great joy and surrounded by celebrants at a posh party on DAOU Mountain in Paso Robles to honor the event, brothers Daniel and Georges Daou introduced their latest wine triumph, the 2017 Soul of a Lion, displaying richness, elegance and balance. This world-class Cabernet Sauvignon is DAOU Family Estates signature wine named for their late father, who, after seeing what great strides his sons had made in making wine, left them something precious, his blessing. ”At that moment, our dream of the perfect Cabernet Sauvignon crystallized into conviction,” said Daniel.

Daou’s shaping of a new world wine culture began in France where the brothers were raised surrounded by wineries whose influence was felt on the young boys.

After advanced schooling in San Diego and a thriving tech business, they went on to pursue their winemaking dream.  On the advice of renowned Napa Valley winemaker Andre’ Tchelistcheff, a hilltop 2,250 feet high estate of 212 acres was selected in the Adelaida District of Paso Robles some 13 years ago. Its calcerous clay is similar to the terroir of Bordeaux, with Cabernet Sauvignon accounting for most of the planting.

Consistent achievement has been accelerated lately as the wine world has taken note of the brilliantly produced range of highly rated Cab based wines coming from DAOU Family Estates. No less than Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, the No. 1 global reviewer of fine wines, rated DAOU’s 2017 Soul of a Lion ($125) 95-97+ points on a scale of 100. Another name to know is Patrimony Cave des Lions 2018 which received a whopping 97-100 points. Writer Erin Brooks remarked that “in the pursuit of excellence, no expense is spared at DAOU … no detail goes unnoticed and no shortcuts are taken.”

Other exciting projects are in the making at DAOU Family Estates. The former Bank of Italy building in downtown Paso Robles, a historic corner building will be home to new DAOU offices and hospitality tasting room. Re-opening is slated for 2021, the 100-year anniversary of the building.

Another iconic purchase is a 3-acre property on the east side of Highway 1 in Cambria, with stunning 360 degree views of the Pacific ocean. Gardens, a restaurant and tasting room are in the restoration plan, all sensitive to the environment and surrounding community. Plans call for an opening before the end of the year. 

A project that just opened is the DAOU wine lounge on Mammoth Mountain that launched in February and will stay open until ski season ends in late April.

The wine industry from France to Paso Robles is focusing on one of its own, DAOU Family Estates, breaking new ground and raising its level of excellence to new cultural heights. Let’s drink to that.

DAOU Wine Dinner wows at Rancho Valencia

It would only be fitting to follow my colleague and Senior Editor Frank Mangio with highlights from a DAOU Wine Dinner with amazing wine and Lebanese inspired dishes at Rancho Valencia featuring Daniel Daou.

The Rancho Valencia team created a beautiful al fresco dining experience for guests under slightly cloudy conditions with the moon out and shining. Daniel was nostalgic talking about his recent past when he and brother held many business meetings and dinners at Rancho Valencia before they sold DAOU Systems focused on medical information technology systems before venturing into the wine world. 

Guests enjoyed 2018 Sauvignon Blanc with tray passed appetizers including Bottagra Dolma (Ostera caviar yogurt) and Oyster Tempura. The second course continued with 2018 Reserve Chardonnay perfectly paired with Monkfish and saffron rice served over a rich mussel crème sauce allowing one to fully enjoy the oakiness of the Chardonnay. 

The next three courses and dessert featured DAOU’s famous reds starting with the third course — California quail with rose water stuffing and wild tea consommé paired with 2017 Seventeen Forty. Some might be wondering why 1740 for the name of a wine. To appreciate the name, one must be aware of DAOU’s embracement of their history and culture and how they infuse this into their wines. If one is at the winery and looks up at the bell in the tower, they will see that the bell was cast in 1740. Furthermore, the bell is rung three times a year, on their parents’ anniversary, at the commencement of harvest, and the conclusion of harvest. 1740 is a fusion of estate Cabernet Franc (60%) and Merlot (40%) with incredible smoothness and tannins.  For course four, guests enjoyed Young Kid Sausage, Baba Ghanoush, and House Laban along with 2017 Cabernet Franc. 

Daniel Daou is truly a gifted winemaker able to take a wine like Cab Franc, typically a blending wine, as either a blend like 1740 or single varietal 93+ point award winning wines.  Course Five featured the newly released star, 2017 Soul of a Lion, perfectly paired with Wood-Grilled Venison Tri-Tip with a cocoa rub and Champagne-Grape Tabbouleh. An amazing course! Dinner concluded with goat cheese cheesecake with a 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Fortified Wine with the essence of a vintage port. Bravo, Bravo DAOU and Rancho Valencia for an out of this world experience. Details at

During the evening, Frank and I were able to catch up with Social Media Manager and Brand Ambassador Katherine Daou. She said to be on the lookout for a major DAOU release announcement on April 5. Follow DAOU in social media (@daouvineyards) for details.

Story by Tech Director/Writer Rico Cassoni

Wine Bytes

• The Family Winemakers Tasting show, scheduled for Sunday, March 22, has been postponed. No new date has been planned yet.  Check

Coronavirus Impact

Taste of Wine and Food empathizes with all our wine and food partners as society bands together to make tough decisions to curb the spread of the virus. We wish the best to all our partners and viewers as we get through these trying health and economic times. The wine and food will be that much better on the other side.

Stay Healthy,

Frank and Rico