Duel by Darioush, Napa, California.



60% Cabernet, 40% Shiraz



  • I’d never seen this wine before, so I was over the moon when I received it as a gift on Tuesday! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: “Keep your friends close, and your wine-drinker friends closer!”
  • The name Duel comes from the blend of Cabernet and Shiraz, and is illustrated on the front label by the dueling lion and bull. The idea is that the two grapes share a similar reputation for being powerful and aggressive, but embrace each other when brought together. The same is not true for lions and bulls in real-life. Just thought I’d clarify that…
  • The Darioush winery was founded by Darioush Khaledi in 1997. He developed a “wine problem” from a young age, occasionally sneaking samples from his father’s wine barrels. Darioush didn’t enter the wine industry in the traditional way of the majority of winery owners in California. He actually grew up in Shiraz, an Iranian city famed for its winemaking. Darioush went in pursuit of the American dream in ‘76, and opened a “Valu Plus” grocery store in Los Angeles with his brother in-law. The chain has since grown to over 20 locations with over 1,400 employees, and is the strongest independent supermarket chain in the U.S. In the 90’s, Darioush decided to combine groceries with grapes and opened the Darioush Estate.
  • The Darioush Estate takes a true minimal interventionist approach to their winemaking, something which I was always find refreshing to hear! All their grapes are hand-harvested and hard-sorted. Their wines are also bottled without filtration, a step which although meaning an increase in sediment and an almost hazy appearance to the wine, doesn’t strip the wine of much of its flavor and yields a much more “natural” end product

  • Robert Parker described this wine as: “…an innovative blend of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.” Innovative seems like a big word to be using for the blending of these two grapes. It’s not as if no-one has done it before, but what is innovative is that they’re choosing to label it as Shiraz and not as Syrah, as one would expect. Although it doesn’t detail their motivations behind this step on their website, one can only guess it’s paying homage to the town in which Darioush grew up in.

  • Click here for the Duel website and here for the Darioush website (although, beware of the automatic music which plays, and the annoying clicking sound the cursor makes as it scrolls over the menu). 


Napa-Valley-Wine-Map-CaliforniaPlace (click map for larger view)

  • The grapes for the Duel are grown on the Darioush estate in Napa Valley and the Oak Knoll AVA.
  • The Oak Knoll AVA was created in the early 2000s and is relatively cool. The region is located on the valley floor, south of Yountville and Stags Leap but north of the town of Napa. Merlot and Cabernet dominate.
  • Next time I’m in California, I’m definitely putting Darioush on my to-do list! The winery and visitor center opened in 2004, after five years of construction. The building is the first winery in North America to combine Persian culture and design into its architecture. Click here for a photo gallery of the winery.
  • Darioush grows seven varieties of grapes and is reported to bring-in between $7 million and $8 million a year in revenue.



Nowhere near as aggressive as I was preparing myself for!
Ultra-ripe red cherries, wild blackberries and bold cassis. Savory notes of tealeaf, cinnamon, clove, coffee and cocoa. A lingering spicy finish. Decant, aerate, or lay it down for another 5+ years.



It’s a meal in itself, but the Duel gave me an overwhelming craving for coffee-rubbed sirloin steak topped with melted gorgonzola cheese.



$48, but drinks above its price-point.


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