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Average critic rating : 89.0 points
The 1988 has to be among the top two or three Cabernets of the vintage. Other than 1983, the 3,300 cases produced in 1988 is the smallest production of Dominus to date, as over half the crop was deemed unsatisfactory. Twenty-five percent new oak was used. The dense, opaque ruby/purple color exhibits great saturation and intensity, and the nose is beginning to offer up smoked herb and ripe cassis aromas. In the mouth, the wine is deep, medium to full-bodied, with excellent concentration, and one of the longest, richest finishes I have found in a Cabernet Sauvignon from 1988. The tannins are noticeable, but softer than in the 1989 or 1987. Of all the current Dominus offerings, I suspect the 1988 and 1984 are the most flattering to drink at present. Nevertheless, this wine should easily evolve for another 10-15 or more years. Oct 1993, www.robertparker.com, Drink: 2003-2008
Very good saturated red-ruby. Aromas of plum, chocolate and herbs; shows a port-like aspect yet smells like a low-pH wine. A wine of moderate concentration and flavor development, from fruit of modest ripeness. One-dimensional for Dominus. Finishes with rather strong, toothcoating tannins. Jul 1999, www.vinous.com
Christian Moueix/Dominus: The Importance
Christian Moueix is seen by many to be the one of the most important men in wine. Named Decanter Man of the Year in 2008 and as president of Bordeaux négociant Établissements Jean-Pierre Moueix (JP Moueix), Christian Moueix has overseen production of several estates in Saint-Émilion and Pomerol, including Pétrus and Château Trotanoy.
However, it is Moueix’s work across the Atlantic that is currently turning heads: he is the founder and owner of Dominus, the Californian cult label with the pedigree of top-class right-bank Bordeaux. To quote Robert Parker: “The Dominus wines possess a distinctive French character… The wines go from strength to strength and are meant to age for 20 to 25 years. They represent profound expressions of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon made in the style of an outstanding Bordeaux.”
Christian Moueix/Dominus: The Insight
As might be expected from a man who played an instrumental part in the evolution of Pétrus, Moueix’s Dominus is a simply brilliant wine. The essence of Bordeaux runs through the DNA of Dominus, complementing the Napa terroir beautifully. Low yields result in dense, concentrated wines, which Robert Parker comments “smell like a hypothetical blend of a top Napa Cabernet Sauvignon and a serious Bordeaux, possibly a cross blend of a Pomerol and Pauillac.”
Typically complex, with intense aromatics and full-bodied, Cabernet-dominated flavours, the estate's two chief wines - the Dominus and Napanook proprietary reds - are, quite simply, the perfect blends of the best of Bordeaux and the best of California. The first vintage of Dominus was 1983 while the first of Napanook was 1996. With 100 Robert Parker points apiece, the Dominus 2010 and 2013 are the two showstoppers, but plenty more follow hot on their heels, such as the 1991, 1994, 2002 and 2008.
Christian Moueix/Dominus: The Background
Moueix first fell in love with Napa Valley in the 1960s while attending the University of California. On graduating he returned home to manage the family vineyards, including those of Pétrus, La Fleur-Pétrus, Trotanoy and Magdelaine. However he could not resist Napa’s siren call forever, and in 1980s he took joint possession of the historic Napanook vineyard, a 124 acre site credited with producing the fruit of the some of Napa’s greatest historic wines. By 1995, Moueix was the vineyard’s sole owner. In 1997 construction was completed on the Dominus winery, a striking combination of metal and rock designed by famous Swiss architect duo Jacques Herzog & Pierre de Meuron. It was the architects’ first project in the US, and has been described by some as “the stealth winery” for the way that it seems to vanish into the surrounding landscape.
Though the estate has been in production in Yountville's Napanook in the foothills of the Mayacamas for more than twenty years, the recent vintages have been some of the most remarkable in Dominus' impressive history, with near-perfect scores awarded for its 2012 and 2013 vintages, bringing it to the fore of Napa's roster of icon wines. He called the estate Dominus and the rest is a modern winemaking success story.
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