Taste of Wine – Paso Robles – Cabernet

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Daniel Dau - Paso Robles CabernetIt’s been a well deserved 50 some years ofNapaValleyexcellence ingrowingand producingCalifornia’s finest, Cabernet Sauvignon.Some would go further and say the world’s finest Cabernet Sauvignon.In the 60’s, just 25Napawineries were operating, and now there are over 400 and land can be over $500,000. an acre. WhileNapawas solidifying its position as the premium Cab country inCalifornia, a pocket of this state, betweenSan FranciscoandSanta Barbara, was slowly gathering momentum from key owners, emigrating from other lands and careers.Paso Robles was harvesting quality wines, first in the 70’s with Gary Eberle and his Syrahs and Cabs, then in the 80’s with Ken Volk and Jerry Lohr with a distinctly Rhone ValleyFrench footprint. As Paso was examined by more interested wine investors, it became clear that this vast area of some 32,000 acres could be not only a growing grounds for Rhone style wines, but, despite the occasional drawback of heat, a potential garden for Cabernet Sauvignon, the core varietal for the great Bordeaux style of winemaking. My first taste of Paso was with Justin Vineyards and Winery. With its high elevation off Highway 46 close to the coast, it is a natural for the Bordeaux style of Cabernet, mirrored by the venerable star of the winery, Isosceles, popular since the 80’s. ($70)

Fast forward to 2007, when the Daou brothers, Daniel and Georges, after whirlwind fast-track success in technology, purchased and settled into the highest elevation vineyard in the area at 2,200 feet, and a maker of Cabernet.Their French background and compelling love for Cabernet, pointed the way for their goal of making the best Cabernet inCalifornia.In 2012, the Cab Collective was formed to market the trend. In a recent issue of Wine Spectator, Daniel Daou predicted that “I believe I can make Cabernet here to compete with wine from anywhere in the world. My heart is with Cabernet.Its complex, structured, it ages and I love the taste of it.”

His 180 acres under vine has produced Daou’s best harvest ever in 2013.The Daou 2011 Reserve Cabernet scored 95 points in Tasting Panel Magazine. ($53.)Other Paso Cabs of note that I have tasted and recommend include:Adelaida Cab Reserve 2011 ($75.), Hunt Cellars Cab 2009. ($75.), Jada Passing By Blend 2011. ($46.), J. Lohr Cuvee 2010. ($50.) and Chateau Margene Cab 2011. ($72)For more visitwww.pasoroblesCAB.com.

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator.His columns can be viewed atwww.tasteofwinetv.com.He is one of the top wine commentators on the web.Reach him at[email protected].