2017 Daou Vineyards Pessimist Red Blend

Year: 2017
Appellation: Adelaida District, Paso Robles
Country: USA-California
Wine Advocate: 90-92
Jeb Dunnuck: 90
Red Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 15.5%
Price :
$19.95

"A value-priced Rhône blend that usually contains some Zinfandel and Petite Syrah, the 2017 Pessimist offers up rich aromas of dark fruit, grilled meat, licorice and black olive. It's full-bodied, rich and spicy, with good balance and an intense, flavorful finish.

These notes are the result of a fascinating and extensive tasting with father and daughter team Daniel and Lizzy Daou. As readers may know, Daou's estate vineyards (which emphasizes Bordeaux varieties) are planted at high density on steep slopes in Adelaida District in a site once singled out by the great André Tchelistcheff for its potential. Grown in these soils and in this climate, Daou's vines produce grapes with an extraordinarily high phenolic content, to which the estate's winemaking has gradually adapted. Macerations are very short, with the wines finishing fermentation in barrel, but even so these inky, structured reds don't lack for color or substance. Acidities are healthy, alcohols never in excess of 15%, and the wines are totally dry. I looked at two verticals in the course of my tasting, so I'm also in a position to observe that these wines evolve very slowly. There's no one else making Cabernet Sauvignon like this in Paso Robles.

2015 was a challenging vintage, with flowering disrupted by windy weather. Daniel Daou observed that—unusually—the shattered clusters were ripening very unevenly, so he acquired an optical sorter to help making selections in the winery. He lost 50% of his crop, but the results justify the means. 2016, Daou describes as a "perfect vintage," with an early bud break followed by a cool August that permitted extended hang time. Good as those wines are, however, I suspect they'll be overshadowed by 2017, another year of small crops and rigorous selection, with what fruit survived August's heat spike harvested in October. Daou believes the 2017s to be "the best I have made," and it's hard to dissent—though I'm sure this dynamic, perfectionist family will achieve even greater things in the future." (WA)

"Moving to the 2017s, the already bottled 2017 Pessimist is a lot of wine for not much buck. This full-bodied, fleshy, sexy wine gives up lots of black fruits, chocolate, spice, and subtle vanilla notes and certainly put a smile on my face. It’s a pleasure bent, undeniably hedonistic wine to drink over the coming couple of years. From high up off Adelaida Road, the Daou brothers continue to make a massive lineup of stellar wines. The 2016s are incredibly strong across the board and make the most of this brilliant vintage. In 2017, they opted to wait until after the heatwaves and then do extensive sorting, and this paid off brilliantly and I suspect they’ve made the top Bordeaux blends in the vintage. As I’ve said in the past, these wine compete with the best of Napa Valley and are some of the leading Bordeaux blends from Paso Robles." (JD)

Winery Notes:
Winemaker Notes:
The 2017 Pessimist has a powerful and intensely aromatic nose that ascends to greet you with blueberry, boysenberry and black plum fragrance. Evolving layers reveal elderberry and truffle, with cocoa and cardamom spice accents, further augmented by hints of eucalyptus, leather, cherry pipe tobacco and grilled meats. The finish is smooth and leisurely. Essences of pure dark berry fruit seemingly refuse to abate with a gorgeous fitting finale.

Blend:
Petite Sirah 64%, Syrah 23%, 10% Zinfandel, 2% Lagrein, and 1% Tannat.