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Daniel Daou, from left, Taste of Wine and Food's Rico Cassoni and Georges Daou at 2018 Soul of a Lion launch party in West Hollywood. Photo courtesy of Rico Cassoni
Daniel Daou, from left, Taste of Wine and Food's Rico Cassoni and Georges Daou at 2018 Soul of a Lion launch party in West Hollywood. Photo courtesy of Rico Cassoni
ColumnsFood & WineTaste of Wine

Taste of Wine: Daou launches 2018 Soul of a Lion at West Hollywood party

The scene was set! It was a picture-perfect summer night on the penthouse rooftop of The London Hotel in West Hollywood, 10 stories high with beautiful panoramic views as the sun was setting. Anything less would not have been fitting to celebrate the worldwide launch of Daou Family Estates’ flagship 2018 “Soul of a Lion” vintage.

This is not an ordinary wine. This is an iconic wine that has put Paso Robles Wine Country on the world map and competes head-to-head with Napa Valley blue-chip wines such as Opus One and Caymus. After selling their health care IT company in 2005, brothers Georges and Daniel Daou focused on fulfilling their passion for making world-class wine.

The first goal was to find a location, known as a terroir in the wine business, to grow fruit. After eight years of searching the world and 200 terroirs later, the brothers found what is now known as Daou Mountain in Paso Robles. The limestone-rich calcareous soil of Paso Robles matches that of Bordeaux France. At 2,200 feet, Daou Mountain resembles the climate of Napa Valley. This provides the perfect location to grow and produce phenomenal wines.

Already, the 2018 Soul Bordeaux blend of 75% cab sauv, 15% cab franc and 10% petit verdot, has racked up the following accolades: 96 points, Wine Enthusiast; 96-plus points, Jeb Dunnuck; and 94-96 points, Robert Parker. This is no surprise as Soul spends 18 months in barrels and 12 months laid down before release. This does not include the three years it takes to make the special rosewood barrels coming from France. In total, a five-year process.

The opaque purple-black hue with phenolics at 280-plus parts per million (ppm), compared to most Bordeaux wines at 130-200ppm, has intense perfume of lilac, violet and spice swirl, and a palate bursting with blueberry, boysenberry, plum, vanilla bean and chocolate-covered cherry, with perfect acidity and minerality that will make this a wine you will remember as one of the great ones.

Soul also has silky tannins with a long-lasting, smooth finish. I had the pleasure of enjoying several Soul vintages over the past several years. The 2018 is the best to date!

The Daou brothers’ success with their wines including Soul and next tier up Patrimony, is only part of the story. They have dedicated Soul of a Lion to their father, Joseph, whom they dearly loved, respected, and admired. I suspect that Joseph smiles daily from heaven at the success of his sons as kind, humble and loving to all they meet as much as he is proud of their success in the wine industry.

Georges and Daniel are two of the most down-to-earth people I have met in my five years in the wine business. During their presentations, both brothers expressed their gratitude and humbleness for all the love and support they receive from their family, team and customers who made Daou Family Estates a reality.

During the ceremony, Georges said, “I am grateful beyond wine!” and then quoted Picasso who said, “Find a gift and share.” Georges further shared that, “Soul is part of my gift to the world.”

Guests attending the event were greeted with Daou rosé wine and a lion ice sculpture leading to stairs up to the open-air penthouse. Tray-passed appetizers of stuffed mushrooms, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus and pancake-wrapped salmon with a tomato cream sauce along with food stations offering pasta and salmon in puff pastry were great pairings for the Daou wine featuring the 2018 Soul of a Lion. Chocolate brownies and doughnuts were a fitting finale.

The next day, after our breakfast at the Griddle Café Skyline Experience, my wife, Mary, and I were walking the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Among the many stars, I envisioned a well-deserved star for Daou Soul of the Lion.

Two thumbs-up Daniel, Georges and Team Daou Family Estates for 2018 Soul of a Lion and an Oscar-worthy launch party. Additional details at

— Story by Tech Director/Writer Rico Cassoni


Nickolas Ramo, a purveyor of spirits

After attending a few DAOU wine events, I spoke with and befriended Nickolas Ramo, proprietor of Farr Better Spirits liquor-beer-wine store in Encinitas. Ramo first met Daniel and Georges Daou in 2008 when the Daou brothers were selling DAOU Vineyards’ first wine, the 2005 La Capilla cabernet sauvignon.

Daniel sourced fruit from Paso Robles, made his first production wine and was hooked on winemaking. The brothers were marketing La Capilla at Bridges Golf Club and met Ramo, who loved the wine and wanted to purchase La Capilla to sell at his store. Based on their common Middle Eastern heritage and love of wine, the three instantly became friends.

Nickolas Ramo, of Farr Better Spirits, holds a bottle of DAOU Vineyards’ first production wine, 2005 La Capilla, standing next to Daou’s premium 100-point Patrimony. Photo by Rico Cassoni
Nickolas Ramo, of Farr Better Spirits, holds a bottle of DAOU Vineyards’ first production wine, 2005 La Capilla, standing next to Daou’s premium 100-point “Patrimony.” Photo by Rico Cassoni

Ramo started in the spirits industry in 1994 as partner and co-owner of Liquor Faucet in Bonsall. In 1999, he sold his share and purchased Farr Better from David Farr.

Based on Ramo’s rapid success as the new owner, he was able to quickly expand and double the original size and in 2003, he was able to expand and double again. The 2003 expansion provided Ramo the ability to sell high-end wines, including brands such as DAOU Patrimony, Opus One, Hundred Acre and Vega Sicilia to name a few.

When I asked Ramo something that he would want our readers to know, he said, “Rico, I love all wine, all regions, and am passionate about the wine industry.” This was clear based on the variety of spirits, beer and (premium) wine he had in his shop, with a constant flow of customers during our interview. Two thumbs-up for you as well, Nickolas!

—Story by Tech Director/Writer Rico Cassoni


Wine Bytes

  • Country music concerts are a big thing in the Temecula Valley with a full slate of September music. Oak Mountain Winery has multi-award-winning Brent Payne with his brand of country on Saturday, Sept. 25, 7 to 9 p.m. Cost is $75-$80. It includes one trip to the buffet, with beer and wine available. Tickets are available at
  • On Wednesday, Sept. 22, South Coast Winery Resort in Temecula spotlights another of its weekly country concerts. This week its Dylan Scott with his romantic platinum-certified No. 1 hit “My Girl,” plus gold-certified and a top 5 breakout album. Scott has turned real-life experiences into chart-topping success. Food trucks available for pre- and during-concert eating. Ticket prices are $45 for general admission up to $200 for a “super fan” ticket in the first two rows with access to a meet and greet pre-concert. Tickets and more information available at                             

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