Daniel and Georges Daou are hoping to create another breakthrough for the Paso wine region. Proprietors of Daou Vineyards and Winery in the Adelaida District, the brothers are welcoming noted Master Sommelier Fred Dame as their winery’s Global Wine Ambassador.
“Our goal is to elevate the quality of our wine and also to elevate the quality of the region,” said Daniel Daou in a phone conversation from his Paso Robles Daou Mountain estate. “Fred’s going to play a big role in that.
“He’s the most respected sommelier pretty much on this planet,” Daou added in appreciation of Dame, the first American to have served as President of the Court of Master Sommeliers and is counted among the prestigious group of 116 Americans to have passed the Master Sommelier examination.
Daou continued: “Fred’s role is to bring awareness to our wines and to the Paso region.” In that capacity, Dame’s mission will be to target and focus on the sommelier community. “He’s not going to carry a sales bag around selling wine but rather bring credibility by simply creating the right awareness for our brand and Paso,” said Daou.
Of his Bordeaux-style blends that continue to receive high ratings from respected wine critics, Daou reflected: “We’ve convinced the critics, we’ve convinced the consumers, and we have convinced the somms to a certain degree but not much. We felt the somm world is really the last frontier for us to get through.”
On our conference call, Dame who was in San Francisco, joined in. “Now for my last hurrah I’m not only working with Daou brothers but pleased to be in the Paso appellation,” said the master sommelier who is bullish on the Paso region.
Why so confident in Paso’s terroir, I ask?
Dame recalled that he was impressed with the Paso region when he first tasted Daou cabernet sauvignon.
“Then take a look: we have iron rich top soil over porous limestone, similar to St. Emilion,” Dame remarked, comparing Paso to Bordeaux’s famed Right Bank region. “And the favorable climate for cabernet sauvignon,” he added. “So it’s a perfect storm — a combination of soil and climate, and don’t leave out the dedication of people.”
Before Dame rolls out the national program, he is going to focus on Daou Winery’s wine club. Then it’s on to Texas and Florida later this year promoting the brand and the Paso appellation and conducting tastings with sommeliers. “These are the guys in the trenches and front lines everyday,” he commented on the sommelier community. “I have huge confidence in Daou wines and these are the people I want tasting our wines and serving.”
Dame will also present Daou wines at the upcoming Santa Fe wine and chili festival, a gathering of top chefs and sommeliers from all over the country.
Dame compared Paso to the earlier days of Napa Valley in the 1970s, at a time when that region was in its growing stages. “What I see in Adelaida and Paso is the same opportunity.” He recalled that in 1975 when HMR (Hoffman Mountain Ranch owned by the late Dr. Stanley Hoffman) made the first great California pinot noir, it took people by surprise. Dame is impressed with the spectacular quality of Paso wines achieved in the last few decades and is confident of the industry’s growth.
“More excitingly, it’s a region with great history finding its way to probably where it belonged and now will be established at the forefront for cabernet sauvignon in the state of California.”
Daou agreed with Dame on Paso’s high quality of wines in recent years. He recalled a time when introducing his Daou wines in Las Vegas, restaurateurs and distributors would balk at the $24 Paso cabernet sauvignon. “Today nobody sneezes at our $125 cab because they love the wines,” he said with satisfaction. “We’ve come a long way.”
The Daou brothers acquired the Adelaida District property in 2008. The scenic Daou Mountain estate spans 212 acres with 120 acres under vine to Bordeaux varieties. At its highest, the estate soars to an elevation of 2,200 feet. As winemaker, Daniel crafts distinct cabernet sauvignon and Bordeaux-style blends that continue to garner high ratings from wine critics such as Robert Parker, Jr.
I have tasted Daou wines from its beginning almost a decade ago and been impressed with the quality of wines ranging from the pricey Estate Collection comprised of 100 percent Daou Mountain vineyards and the Reserve made with sourced fruit from prized Paso AVAs and Daou vineyards to the affordable Paso Robles Collection produced from select Paso fruit. There is a consistency in the entire portfolio, in wines that are complex and well balanced reflecting Paso’s terroir and the dedication of Daou brothers along with their well-trained team.