A 99 point blockbuster that is “flirting with perfection”, the 2012 Dominus is a superb wine from an emerging Napa powerhouse. Dominus, the Napa operation of Christian Moueix of Chateau Petrus fame, has been on an incredible run of form in recent years. A series of exceptional vintages, including its first 100 points for the 2010, is continued in the 2012, another masterpiece and at 99 points almost equally compelling.

 

As Parker comments, “everything is seamlessly crafted” and reflects not only the wealth of experience gained at Petrus in Pomerol but also the culmination of thirty years in charge at Dominus. It is, quite simply, the perfect blend of the best of Bordeaux and California.

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Average critic rating : 98.33 points

99

99

Flirting with perfection, the 2012 Dominus is composed of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc. Five thousand cases were produced, a relatively modest amount from this large vineyard’s big crop. Christian Moueix told me that there was plenty of heat in 2012, but there were no excessive hot spells that can plague Napa Valley vintners during the growing season and harvest. This wine’s opaque plum/purple color is accompanied by a beautiful nose of sweet crème de cassis, a touch of background oak (only 40% new oak is used), spice box, cedarwood, black cherries and a hint of spring flowers. The complex, intense aromatics are followed by a deep, opulent, multidimensional, full-bodied wine with not a hard edge to be found. Everything is seamlessly crafted in this beauty and the vintage’s abundant richness is well-displayed. This 2012 can be drunk in its exuberant youthfulness or cellared for another 20-25 years. (Oct 2014) www.erobertparker.com Drink 2014-2039

98

98

The 2012 Dominus is a real head-turner. Flashy, voluptuous and intense, but with tons of underlying concentration, the 2012 is simply magnificent. A towering, vertical Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2012 Dominus is one of the most concentrated wines of the vintage, yet it also maintains considerable freshness, the signature of a late-ripening vintage with no heat spikes. Sweet red cherry, raspberry and floral notes add lift on the perfumed, expressive finish. The blend is 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc. Oct 2015, www.vinous.com

98

98

Fabulous purity and clarity of fruit. Black currants, blackberries and violets. Full body, big soft tannins and a chocolate, hazelnut and dark fruit character. Some hot stones too. Ripe, velvety and fruity finish. Better in 2020 but delicious to drink now. Wonderful Dominus. Nov 2015, www.jamessuckling.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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