Each bottle of Soul of a Lion represents a nine-year journey of passionate curation. This journey begins with rare bois rosé French oak barrels whose staves are seasoned in the elements for five years prior to coopering. The wine is then aged for nearly two years in these proprietary DAOU 5-Year barrels conceived by Winemaker Daniel Daou. Finally, it is held for extended bottle maturation prior to allocation — ensuring that each vintage has achieved perfection upon release.
Hailed decades earlier as a “jewel of ecological elements” by legendary winemaker André Tchelistcheff, DAOU Mountain was rediscovered by brothers Georges and Daniel Daou in 2007. Their quest for a sublime terroir ended here, on steep slopes that ascend to an elevation of 2,200 feet, all blessed with the type of calcareous clay soil found in the greatest appellations. The Adelaida District would soon become the world’s newest benchmark for Cabernet Sauvignon.
Soul of a Lion is the masterwork of Winemaker Daniel Daou, who combines technical innovation with the touch of an artist. The fruit for Soul of a Lion is identified early and reverently tended through harvest. The berries are optically sorted to ensure pure fruit integrity, and the wine is made exclusively from free-run juice. During fermentation, Daniel employs proprietary phenolic management techniques to complement his own sensory expertise. The resulting wine displays a rare trifecta of power, density and elegance.
“The happiness we found on DAOU Mountain came from following our father’s example. Soul of a Lion is a tribute to the man who made it all possible.”Georges & Daniel Daou
Georges and Daniel Daou grew up in Beirut, Lebanon, the sons of Joseph and Marie. Joseph was a self-made businessman, and at the time Beirut was known as “the Paris of the Middle East.” During summer vacations, the brothers would play in the ancient olive groves owned by their grandfather, and it was in these groves that they learned to love agriculture and the rural way of life.
The brothers’ idyllic childhood came to an abrupt end in 1975. At the advent of the Lebanese Civil War, an errant rocket struck the Daou family home. Georges and Daniel were both gravely injured, as was their sister Michelle. Their parents nursed them back to health, then moved the family to safety in Paris. Through it all, Joseph showed his sons the way. He exemplified the virtues of courage, belief and persistence, and his sons would later come to say that he had “the soul of a lion.”
In Paris, the Daou family rebuilt their lives together. The brothers later spent their formative years in Southern France. Here, they were immersed in a culture of food and wine, and they saw the pleasure their father found in bottles of fine Bordeaux. The mountains, the undulations, the olive trees, the vines, the warm summer nights—it was magical. Deeply touched by this experience, Georges and Daniel began to dream of a life in wine.
As émigrés to France and, later, the United States, Georges and Daniel faced the toughest of odds. They learned what it is like to become refugees and outsiders. They had to work that much harder, yet they still found themselves broke after college, wondering what the future might hold. With the help of their father, however, they bootstrapped their own technology startup and succeeded beyond their wildest imagination. And when they did, they decided to return to their roots—to those childhood days in their grandfather’s olive groves and their youthful years in Southern France. It was time for their winemaking dream to prevail.
Eventually the brothers found themselves at the summit of what would become known as DAOU Mountain. It was here that Joseph gave them his blessing. In that moment, the family winery was born—and its crown jewel would be named for the man who made it all possible. This is the story of two sons, their beloved father, and a wine named Soul of a Lion.
96 points, Robert Parker
The 2018 Soul of a Lion is the kind of awe-inspiring, age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignon that Georges and Daniel envisioned when they first began researching the terroir of DAOU Mountain.