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Average critic rating : 87.0 points



The 2011 Napanook, from a challenging vintage, is a blend of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot and 8% Cabernet Franc. It reveals lots of weedy underbrush and herbal characteristics along with pomegranate, sweet cherry and sassafras notes. It also possesses an attractive earthy/autumnal vegetative character, but finishes narrowly with light tannin. Consume it during its first 8-10 years of life. ||Looking at the harvest dates for the 2009 through 2012 Napanook and Dominus reveals that none of these were early, very warm years, such as 2013 is promising to be in northern California. For example, in 2009 the harvest took place between October 5 and 12; 2010 between October 4 and 23; 2011 between October 15 and 24; and 2012 between October 9 and 21. Production has remained steady because the estate crop-thins as much as 50% of the harvest to ensure bunch regularity, even ripening and reasonable yields. The second wine, Napanook, tends to come in around 3,000 cases per year, and Dominus around 5,000 cases per year. I was joking with Christian Moueix when I visited the winery and I told him I am one of the geezers old enough to remember his first vintage of 1983, which was tasted at the Rombauer Cellars until he moved to what appears to be an old bank building in downtown St. Helena, after which they constructed a spectacular winery in Yountville that resembles an extension of their historic terroir. Another great vintage, the 2012s have slightly lower alcohols than the 2009s and 2010s, which surprised me given the exuberant nature of this vintage and its boisterous fruit and glycerin. I was shocked to realize that 2013 will mark over thirty vintages for Christian Moueix and Dominus, not to mention my visits each year. How time flies!||Tel. (707) 944-8954 Wine Advocate.October, 2013

A cult label with the pedigree of right-bank Bordeaux, Dominus is the California outpost of Pomerol and St Emilion-famed proprietor Christian Moueix. 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.

It could be said that what has been achieved here was never in any doubt. As part of the Moueix stable, the essence of Petrus 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.

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