PASO ROBLES, Ca. – It’s difficult to see and taste much in a vast wine region, featuring more than 200 wineries, like Paso Robles. But I managed to get in one of the best new names, an iconic name, and a brand new winery in one afternoon.
Daniel and George Daou own Daou Winery atop one of the highest peaks in the Paso Robles wine region. Sitting 2,250 feet above sea level, the views alone go way beyond spectacular! The tasting room is beautiful from the attention to every detail to the backlit onyx bar.
It’s clear from the first sip that winemaker Daniel trained in Bordeaux. The lines are Saint Emilion-like with a rich and silky mouth feel. He uses a free run method in wine making of heating and cooling the grapes till they burst and letting the juice run off naturally. The process minimize the tannins from the grape seeds.
The first two red blends were good wines, both at the $46 price point. The white blend was not to my palate. A tasty Cabernet Franc/Merlot blend stepped up as the first great wine on the tasting list for $56. Wine Advocate gave it 93 points. One of the best bottles was a 2011 Reserve Cab blend which was dry but smooth, and a reasonable 14.2 percent alcohol. The 100 percent Zin that followed was also a great bottle of wine with rare balance for a California Zin.
I finished with Daou’s signature Cab made in honor of their mother. The $85 wine was a 90-points plus wine in the previous vintage and it was easy to see why – rich, smooth, and beautiful finish. It was probably the best Paso cab I’ve ever tasted.
At 15,000 cases it’s hard to call Daou a ’boutique” winery, but with 100 percent handpicking, 100 percent French oak, and Daniei’s attention to detail – I thought the wines were spectacular. The juice equaled the views.
Next it was off to an icon of Paso Robles wine, Tablas Creek. I walked into the beautiful tasting room, tucked away in the rolling hills and mountains west of Paso, and owner Jason Haas was there. I tasted through the Rhone varietal blends that made TC famous and had a chance to chat briefly with the son of owner Robert Haas.
The interesting part of the conversation was a recent expansion with a land purchase and Jason’s work with much lesser known Rhone wine grapes that even most wine geeks have never heard of previously. Haas said he has “always considered it out mission to be the flab bearer for these Rhone varietals.” The top-end red blends mirror the best of CdP French wines.
My last stop of the day was down the mountain a bit at Brecon, at the recommendation of Paso’s Wine Wranger Coy Barnes. Owner/winemaker Damien just opened in March. The modern ubran-style tasting room is great. He has a bit of an unusual lineup of wine with Albarino, Syrah which comes from across the hill next to Saxum vineyards. The wines are all young but showed great potential. The native Welshman isn’t going to be a huge producer, but his extensive background in the wine business is promising.