Northern Iran is one of the birthplaces of wine, as records from 5,000 B.C. indicate a nomad culture living there and celebrating wine. Darioush Khaledi was instilled at an early age with the winemaking craft of his father and began collecting fine wine at a young age. He migrated to the United States and owned what was once the largest family-owned grocery store business in California. His passion for wine met its apex in 1997 when he formed Darioush winery.
The tasting experience at Darioush is none other. The palatial tasting room at Darioush is the most opulent setting for wine tasting I’ve seen. There are beautiful carvings throughout the winery and high end details that you need to see for yourself to believe. I can’t imagine how much the bar we sat at must have cost. And that was just the bar. Darioush holds a special tasting of the proprietor’s personal wine collection at the winery for $300.00 but we were there to take in the breathtaking atmosphere and sample the new releases.
The wine has received great critical acclaim over the years. Their 2008 Cabernet Franc (95 WWB) might be the best Napa Cab Franc I’ve ever tried. These new releases were very serious as well. I was blown away with the power, balance and flavor profiles obtained in their 2012 Merlot. This is one to pick up for the cellar or for a special occasion. Their 2012 Cabernet was impressive as well, although a bit shut down for the moment, as was their 2012 Cabernet Franc. Darioush makes some exceptional white wines as well, as their 2013 Chardonnay and 2014 Viognier impressed. Look for these wines at specialty northwest wine shops like Met Market and Esquin. You can also find them at darioush.com. Here are some of the fantastic new releases that I recently sampled at Darioush. #darioush
2013 Darioush Duel White- This is a blend of 60% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Viognier. It has fragrant aromas of pear, red delicious apple and grapefruit. There is a striking minerality to the wine and lush mouthfeel. Flavors of pear, lychee and green apple lead to a clean finish. Drink 2015-2019. -91
2014 Darioush Viognier- This wine comes from vineyards in Napa Valley and Oak Knoll. It saw 85% neutral French oak, as well as 10% stainless steel barrels. The wine opens nicely in the glass with aromas of honeysuckle, pear and star jasmine. This leads to flavors of cantaloupe, white peach and pear. Nice balance and richness, as this feels fat on the mouth and has a lingering finish. Drink 2015-2020. -93
2013 Darioush Chardonnay- This wine is made from 70 percent new oak and 100 percent malolactic fermentation. The fruit is sourced from vineyards in Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder, Oak Knoll and Los Carneros. Darioush has gained a strong reputation for Chardonnay over the years. This new release is no exception and has the balance and richness of the best in Napa. It offers lovely nose of golden delicious apples, butter and pear, while bringing lively acidity to the mouth. This is balanced and not overdone in the classic Napa style. Flavors of red delicious apple and starfruit add to the bright finish. Hard to resist now. (Best 2015-2022)- 92
2012 Darioush Merlot- Combining 5% Cab and 5% Cab Franc, this wine has cherry tomato, dill and red cherry on the perfumed nose. Flavors of black cherry, anise, and blackberry jam on the opulent palate. The dense mouthfeel leads to a long and lingering finish. Incredible wine, this is the best Napa Merlot I’ve sampled this year. Drink 2015-2030. -95
2012 Darioush Shiraz-This impressive effort was aged 18 months in new Siruge, Damy and François Frères French oak barrels. The dark and inky colored wine opens with aromas of smoked meats, milk chocolate and blackberry. There is a lush mouthfeel with a nice mineral backbone. There are flavors of black tea, black cherry, and smoked meats. Layered and delicious wine that is drinking beautifully now. Drink 2015-2025. -93
2012 Darioush Cabernet- This is a blend of 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 1% Malbec. Aged 22 months in 85% new Chateau Traditional French oak barrels, the wine comes from estate fruit from Mt. Veeder, Oak Knoll, Napa Valley. There are lovely aromas of red bell pepper, anise and blackberry. Nice richness and viscosity on the mid-palate with a strong mineral backbone. Palate has blackberry, anise, mocha, and graphite with moderate tannins. Layered and rich wine that needs time in the bottle to settle and for the fruit to amalgamate. Drink 2017-2030. -93
2011 Darioush Cabernet- This cold vintage Cabernet is a blend of 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 3% Malbec. This saw 22 months in French oak barrels and like its 2012 version, it is 100% estate fruit. There are aromas reminiscent of blackberry, black cherry and anise. The palate is acidic, with moderate tannins and needs time for the fruit to integrate. Currently showcasing flavors of blackberry, creme de cassis and black cherry. This has great richness considering the vintage. Drink 2017-2028. -91
2012 Darioush Cabernet Franc- This is 90% Cab Franc with 5% Merlot and 5% Cabernet blended in. The nose is herbal, having dried herbs and red bell pepper with red cherry. The palate has nice viscosity and is extremely shut down, as this will need some time. There are flavors predominant of anise, red cherry and blackberry. This is a dense and masculine style Cab Franc. Drink 2017-2030. -93
2012 Capataz- Darioush makes a Malbec that's sourced from sourced from three vineyard estates in Lunlunta, Agrelo and Tupungato, ranging from 14 to over 70 years vine age. The wine opens with aromas of prune, red cherry and cherry tomato. The palate has flavors of cherry tomato, blackberry, and mocha. This is a dense and mineral driven wine. Drink 2015-2025. -92