4240 Silverado Trail
Napa, CA 94558
This is a must-see stop in the Napa Valley – and the wines are amazingly good, as well. Owner Darioush Khaledi has fashioned a working winery designed to look like Persepolis, the capital of ancient Persia and one of the architectural marvels of the ancient world.
Khaledi’s Persian background pops up throughout the tour and tasting here, as visitors tour the travertine stone cladding on the 22,000 square foot building. The stone was quarried near Persepolis and finished by stone masons in Turkey and Italy. Afterwards, while tasting the current releases, one is treated to pistachio nuts imported from Persia.
The 95 acres of vines on the estate are managed by winemaker Steve Devitt. He employs Old World growing and winemaking techniques which are labor-intensive and minimalist in the vinification process. This results in wines of elegance, balance, and ageworthiness.
At the time of my visit, the winery was out of their acclaimed Shiraz and Viognier. Too bad, because these are excellent wines year in and year out.
I remember tasting a 1997 bottling of the Darioush Shiraz, and it was an inky monster, much like high-end Aussie Shiraz. I, for one, am glad to see the winemaking direction move towards layered wines of balance and elegance.
One unique thing they do at Darioush that I didn’t get to participate in is a daily tour with Artisanal cheese and wine tasting at the end. The tariff is a bit steep -- $50 – but the winery’s presentation, service, and choice of cheeses is world-class. Heck, if you have trekked all the way to the Napa Valley, why not treat yourself to this indulgence?
2005 Chardonnay, Napa Valley
An exquisite, perfumed nose of hazelnut, honey, citrus blossom, and apple. Sleek in the mouth, with butter cream and ripe apple. It finishes long and full, with smoke-tinged, buttered fruit. A remarkable white that is just now being released. Don’t miss it!
My Rating: 93 points
2004 Merlot, Napa Valley
A beautiful fragrance of dusty plum, cherry, and currant fruit wafts from the glass. In the background, there are spicy wood notes, chocolate, and herbs. It is medium-full in body, very elegant, showing refined tannins.
My Rating: 91 points
2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa
Uplifted dill-weed accents, hints of dark flowers, black licorice, and some spice frame the moderate black fruits. Balanced, with fine-grained tannins. Bordeaux lovers will be ecstatic with this wine.
My Rating: 89 points