Daou Vineyards Bodyguard Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County 2020

Deep gold color; lime, yellow apple, pear, crushed stone on the nose; lime, yellow apple, Meyer lemon, banana, pear, oak, vanilla, butter, cream on the palate.

Daou Vineyards Bodyguard Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County 2020

Dry; rich, opulent California style chard. Plenty of oak influences. Medium-plus body. Daniel Daou swung for the fences with this effort and it works. Chardonnay is so versatile it depends on the style the winemaker selects, and this is chard big and rich, lavish, silky, plush. Same time, this is that style done right. The oak and malolactic are not pancake makeup to cover flaws in the juice. It all comes together with elegance and style, which is what you expect from Daou Vineyards. 14.5% ABV

Daou is an inspiring life story, underlining how enterprising immigrants are the soul and engine of America’s success. The saga begins in Lebanon in 1956 when Joseph and Marie Dauo married after a whirlwind romance. At that time, Beirut was considered the “Paris of the Middle East.” Joseph built his carpentry business into one of the region’s most successful furnishing companies.

Then, in 1973, came Lebanon’s civil war. Daou family members were injured and spent two years recovering. As the war intensified, the family moved to France in 1975, settling in Cannes in the heart of Provence. Two Daou brothers, Georges and Daniel, fell in love with the region and its wine life. In the 1980s, they immigrated to California to pursue the American dream. They enrolled at UC–San Diego and studied electrical and computer engineering, then built a company—DAOU Systems—that revolutionized hospital computer systems worldwide.

In 1998, the brothers took DAOU Systems public. Daniel had been making wine in his garage in rural San Diego for years. With the sale of DAOU Systems, they had the resources to start a winery. They found land on a “mountain” in Paso Robles—at 2,200 feet, the highest elevation in the AVA. It was just 14 miles from the Pacific Ocean, with cool, ocean winds blowing through the Templeton Gap. Daniel shared his vision with his father. Joseph replied: “Go and don’t look back. Go full throttle.”

Daou proprietor and winemaker Daniel Daou
Daou proprietor Georges Daou
Joseph and Marie Daou

And so they did. Dauo creates exceptional wines and is an exceptional enterprise. Beautiful location. Sensitive and inclusive to the talents and needs of their employees and to their Dauo Mountain estate. They claim, with some authority, that Paso Robles is a blend of Bordeaux and Napa, and their wines and winery bear out that vision.

Daou Vineyards Bodyguard Chardonnay, Paso Robles 2020 is opulent, lusty, almost decadently delicious. What lower-shelf Cali chards pretend to be, Daou’s Bodyguard Chardonnay really is. Quintessential style—ripe fruit, vanilla-laced oak, rich and buttery mouthfeel. Pair with rich fish—salmon, tuna, herring, halibut, rainbow trout; pork; poultry, including fried chicken; vegetarian fare. Cheese—blue cheese, camembert, gruyère; avoid funky, washed rind cheese and aged goat and sheep’s cheeses. $33-39

Daou Vineyards website; many superb videos, worth a visit

Excellent video about Daou’s story and review of the previous vintage of this wine

Missouri State University video of Daniel Daou explaining this wine

Daou Moutain, winery, and vineyards
Daou winery and visitor center
Daou vineyard
Daou vineyard-morning
Daou vineyard-winter
Daou winery
Daou bell tower
Daou winery and vineyard
Daou vineyard