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Average critic rating : 93.67 points
In a blind tasting, both the 1990 and 1991 wines were identified as being French by all eight tasters. I pulled these wines from my cellar to insert as ringers, so I was particularly miffed at not getting their origin correct. In retrospect, I suppose I was somewhat surprised by just how great the 1990 performed in comparison with the profound 1991. I mistakenly thought the 1990 was a Medoc, with its cedary, spicy, tobacco, blackcurrant-scented nose, sweet, full-bodied flavors, high tannin, and low acidity. It is a superb Dominus that may be just beginning to close down. Rich and powerful, it is capable of lasting for 20+ years. Feb 1997, www.robertparker.com, Drink: 1997-2017
Served alongside Monte Bello 1990, this seemed a little simpler but if anything more youthful. Strong sweet cassis fruit and still a little tannin left in reserve. Very respectable indeed. Good to see Jean-Charles Cazes of Ch Lynch Bages impressed by it. May 2015, www.jancisrobinson.com, Drink: 2000-2022
Deep red-ruby. Knockout, Bordeaux-like aromas of cherry syrup, plum, chocolate, mocha and brown spices, plus a faint vegetal complexity. Sweet, smooth and ripe, if not quite as dense as the extraordinary '91. Excellent acidity gives the flavors lovely clarity. Finishes firmly tannic and very long. Extremely suave wine. 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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