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Average critic rating : 93.8 points

98

98

The 2008 Dominus may eclipse the 2007, but it may just be a matter of style. The 2007 Dominus, the quintessential model of haute couture, is pure elegance exhibiting a seamless integration of wood, tannin, alcohol and acidity as well as a complex bouquet of cedar, new saddle leather, sweet kirsch, black currant and plum fruit and a notion of licorice. Both the 2007 and 2008 Dominus should drink well for 25-30 years. ||This estate, owned by Christian Moueix, includes the famed Napanook Vineyard that was the base of so many of the historic Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignons of the 1950s and 1960s. Interestingly, they have completely eliminated Merlot from the bottling. The 2007 Dominus is a 5,400-case blend of 94% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. There are 4,200 cases of the 2008 Dominus which is composed of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. Lower yields resulted in a denser, more concentrated wine. The remarkable thing about these cuvees is that they smell like a hypothetical blend of a top Napa Cabernet Sauvignon and a serious Bordeaux, possibly a cross blend of a Pomerol and Pauillac. Both wines possess silky sweet tannins, which is the big difference between Dominus post-1990 and the first seven vintages, where the tannin content was relatively high. About 40% new oak is used in their upbringing.||P.S. In a couple of years, readers should be on the look-out for a new estate wine from Christian Moueix. One mile north of the Napanook Vineyard, Moueix has purchased a 36-acre, already planted parcel known as the Schmidt Ranch. I tasted some of the 2009 barrel samples and this appears to be another promising venture with a completely different personality a more obviously Napa Valley/Cabernet Sauvignon, ripe style of wine than the more elegant, complex Dominus. I’m not sure what the name will be, but it will definitely not be called the Schmidt Ranch.||Tel. (707) 944-8954; Fax (707) 944-0547 Wine Advocate.December, 2010

93

93

Lots of forest berries and flowers in the nose. On the palate, it is thick and very rich, with big plummy fruit and a light raisin aftertaste. Chewy, round, and very generous on the palate. This still needs some time to come together. Leave this alone for another three to four years. 14+24+23+32. Apr 2011, www.jamessuckling.com

88

88

Loamy earth, dried currant and blackberry fruit is supple and layered, full-bodied and balanced, gaining in complexity and style on the finish. The best of three bottles tasted. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Best from 2012 through 2020. 5,000 cases made. WineSpectator.com

18.5

18.5

Another very good vintage. Dark glossy crimson. Complex and seductive nose – more immediately accessible than the 2006. Round and fresh and lovely supple tannins. Already gorgeous. Lift of the heels. Real lift overall. Round. Clean. Tannins lurk but they are fresh and ripe. Oct 2013, www.jancisrobinson.com, Drink: 2013-2028

94

94

(features an unusually high 94% cabernet sauvignon) Good deep red-ruby. Ripe, rich aromas of black raspberry, coffee, menthol, licorice and smoked meat. Much more velvety and seamless than the Napanook, with more thoroughly integrated acidity and enticing inner-mouth floral lift. Not a particularly opulent style but very suave and complex, finishing with noteworthy rising length and very sweet, fine-grained tannins. This beauty has the balance for a long and graceful life in bottle. May 2010, 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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