2017 PESSIMIST – PASO ROBLES, CALIFORNIA
Grape: 64% Petite Sirah, 23% Syrah, 10% Zinfandel, 2% Lagrein, 1% Tannat
Owner: Daou Vineyards & Winery
Winemaker: Daniel Daou
Approximate Retail Price: $26
Color: Intensely dark, highly reflective surface, opaque but not cloudy
Aroma: Rich, ripe, dark fruits, dominated by blackberry and cherry laced with earth spices, leather and tobacco
Taste: Immediately satisfying, with heavy fruit of black cherry, plum and cassis, giving way to layer after layer of complex spices, anise and cocoa
Why write about a wine like this during the heat of the summer? Because it’s flying off shelves here – and fall will soon arrive.
Serving guests big, jammy fruit-bombs on a patio in 90 degree weather always prompts concern, but they love it. Daou Vineyards & Winery’s Pessimist ranks as just such a wine, and it doesn’t disappoint. Not just a sledgehammer of a big wine, it features exquisite craft, complexity and manifold aromas and flavors that continue to reveal themselves with every sip.
With Pessimist, brothers Georges and Daniel Daou, of the vineyards/winery bearing their surname, sought to create a red blend that showcased varietals flourishing in Paso Robles, California. They wanted to demonstrate old world-style winemaking with the rich fruitiness of California-style wines.
As a hotter locale, Paso Robles tends to produce riper grapes that add to darker, more fruit-forward wines. Combined with the Daous’ cultivation and winemaking style, Pessimist marks a grand achievement and a truly unique wine – so much so that the brothers gave it its own website, apart from the main Daou website. (The other wines on that site, incidentally, focus more on Bordeaux and Rhône varietals, often blending the two families with remarkable results.)
Hailing from Lebanon and having grown up in southern France surrounded by vineyards, the Daous spent much of their early years dreaming of their own life of wine. They began to realize that dream on purchasing Hoffman Mountain Ranch and renaming it Daou Mountain.
At 2,200 feet above sea level, the area had long produced wine. The Daous restored the original redwood winery, preserving history and carrying on tradition while adding their own style.
The brothers’ own sly slogan for the wine at hand states, “A pessimist is never disappointed.” Regarding this wine, those words could never ring truer – although, given Pessimist’s deliciousness, one might always see the proverbial glass as half empty.
Food Pairings: Aged meats, smoked lamb, barbecue and soft goat cheese (with, apparently, summer’s swelter) all pair nicely with Pessimist.
Certified Sommelier Stanley Browne owns Robust Wine Bar in Webster Groves.