About this WINE
Dominus is now entirely owned by Christian Moueix (of Château Pétrus fame) and produces one of the finest Bordeaux style wines in California.
The fruit is sourced largely from the famed Napanook Vineyard located at Yountville in the Napa Valley. Some of the vines at Napanook are over 100 years old and it was one of the 3 vineyards from which the great vintages of Inglenook were produced. Dominus is a Bordeaux- style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot.
It is aged in one-third new oak barrels for 15 months. After a shaky start, Dominus is now a serious rival to Opus One and in recent years has arguably been the superior wine.
North Coast's Napa Valley is California's most famous viticultural area (AVA), claiming some of the most expensive agricultural land in the world and producing wines of cult status.
Its 16,000 ha of vines lie over a strip (40 miles long-5 miles wide) of diverse soils (clay, gravely, volcanic), with its northernmost end on the side of Mountain Helena and its foot in San Francisco Bay. The valley is framed by two mountains ranges Vaca (to the north) and Mayacamas (to the south), yet the main climatic influence is the cool wind and fog that is sucked in from San Pablo Bay during the afternoon, allowing grapes to ripen slowly and evenly.
The area enjoys a variety of unique microclimates, as temperatures can vary dramatically as much as 15 degrees, from the north to the south end of the valley. These differences have led to the creation of several sub-AVAs (14 in total) including:
Atlas Peak, Chiles Valley District, Diamond Mountain District, Howell Mountain, Los Carneros, Mt. Veeder, Oakville, Rutherford, St. Helena, Spring Mountain District, Stags Leap District, Yountville, Wild Horse Valley and Oak Knoll District. The Calistoga AVA is still pending approval.
Both the Napa Valley designation and the sub-AVA name must appear on the wine label simultaneously, with the exception of wines from the Carneros AVA, which is shared between the Napa Valley and the Sonoma County.
Cabernet Sauvignon is the undisputed king of Napa grapes, occupying over 45% of the vineyard acreage, followed by (predominantly) Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Zinfandel, Merlot, Cab. Franc and to a lesser extent Petite Sirah, Sangiovese, Barbera, Dolcetto.
Frog's Leap, Dominus, David Ramey, Viader, Stag's Leap Cellars, Paras Vineyards, Heitz.
Cabernet Sauvignon lends itself particularly well in blends with Merlot. This is actually the archetypal Bordeaux blend, though in different proportions in the sub-regions and sometimes topped up with Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.
In the Médoc and Graves the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend can range from 95% (Mouton-Rothschild) to as low as 40%. It is particularly suited to the dry, warm, free- draining, gravel-rich soils and is responsible for the redolent cassis characteristics as well as the depth of colour, tannic structure and pronounced acidity of Médoc wines. However 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be slightly hollow-tasting in the middle palate and Merlot with its generous, fleshy fruit flavours acts as a perfect foil by filling in this cavity.
In St-Emilion and Pomerol, the blends are Merlot dominated as Cabernet Sauvignon can struggle to ripen there - when it is included, it adds structure and body to the wine. Sassicaia is the most famous Bordeaux blend in Italy and has spawned many imitations, whereby the blend is now firmly established in the New World and particularly in California and Australia.
Robert M. Parker, Jr. - 23/12/2010
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.
(Robert Parker - Wine Advocate #192 Dec 2010)