May 26, 2021|In Winery Spotlight

Pre-Sale Pre-Cellared Dominus Estate

Get them while they're aged!

Year in and year out, Dominus receives well-deserved high praise and high points! Critics and aficionados alike have been blown away by these wines. Fortunately for us, Dhall & Nash has just received a limited allocation of the stunning Dominus Estate and Napanook 2006, 2008 and 2009 vintages all cellared to optimal conditions and ready for your drinking pleasure now!

Napa Valley is often seen as a hotbed of some of the world’s most bombastic and powerful wines. The ‘big name’ producers reign, all together contributing to growing prestige of American wines and their extraordinary global recognition.

Yet, one stands apart from the others. Perhaps because the blending of the traditional winemaking techniques of Old World Bordeaux with Napa’s unparalleled terroir created the ultimate New World Expression – that of Dominus Estate. Since his inaugural 1983 vintage, French owner Christian Moueix has produced, year after year, wines of great purity and balance, achieving his aim for the estate to become “the Haut-Brion of Napa.”

Every great wine has a great story: that story often begins with the man (or woman) behind the wine. In this case it was Christian Moueix who was lucky enough to be born into a famous Bordeaux wine family known for the ownership and management of Châteaux Pétrus, Lafleur, Trotanoy, Magdelaine and several other estates. However, Christian Moueix, even though being raised around wine, didn’t fall in love with it until tasting what the potentially great Napa Valley terroir could produce. This was during his studies of viticulture and oenology at the University of California at Davis in 1968. After finishing his wine studies in 1970, Moueix returned to Bordeaux to manage his family’s Bordeaux estates, yet the young winemaker never quite forgot the Californian terroir that had so inspired him.

As a self-described “terroir freak” he had quickly recognized the potential of the Napa Valley. The moment Christian saw the Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards that are now Dominus Estate, he knew he found the perfect property for high quality Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The historic Napanook vineyard, a site west of Yountville that had been the source of fruit for some of the finest Napa Valley wines of the 1940s and 1950s. By 1982, Moueix entered into a partnership to develop the vineyard with the daughters of John Daniel (former owner of Inglenook). The forward-thinking Frenchman was on his way with their first vintage being produced in 1983.

In the formative years for Dominus, Jean Claude Berrouet, the winemaker for Chateau Petrus and also for most of the Moueix family owned and managed estates in Bordeaux was instrumental in guiding the production of Dominus. By 1995, Moueix bought the estate in its entirety, naming it “Dominus” (Latin for ‘Lord of the Estate’) to underscore his longstanding commitment to stewardship of the land.

“I can’t think of anyone other than Christian Moueix who could claim to produce one of the greatest wines in France and one of the best in the U.S.” – Robert Parker, Wine Critic

The Napanook Terroir of Dominus Estate:

The Napanook vineyard is located in the volcanic foothills of the Mayacamas mountain range stretching over 124-acres of land consisting of 3 unique soil types: gravel based volcanic soil, clay, and loam on a rolling terroir. That blend of terroir is a large part of what gives the wines of Dominus Estate their unique, elegant, refined style. The Dominus vineyards are planted with a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot. The vines of the Dominus Estate, some of which are over 100 years old, enjoy a temperate climate, with warm and dry summers moderated by cool breezes from the San Pablo Bay and cold, wet winters.

Many of the practices employed at the prestigious Moueix properties in Bordeaux are in use at Dominus Estate as well. At Dominus, a deep root system is encouraged through dry farming, which forces the vines to dig deep into the soil for natural water sources and results in a better expression of terroir in the finished wines. According to Moueix, dry farming is also the solution to lowering the high alcohol levels typically observed in Napa Valley wines. This method allows the grapes to find their natural equilibrium and ripen enough to be picked much earlier than is typical in the region. Finally, dry farming is also a sustainable practice with environmental benefits, as it conserves water, a precious resource indeed in California.

Out in the historical Napanook Vineyard, Moueix’s combination of dry farming, cane pruning, crop thinning and planting of cover crops throughout the property yields a limited quantity of high-quality, concentrated fruit. They are hand-picked. The fruit is transported to the winery in small harvest baskets, in order not to harm the clusters. All up a gentle viticultural approach.

“We never look for a fruit bomb. I hate the idea of a fruit bomb.” – Christian Moueix, Owner/Winemaker

Winemaking at Dominus - Balance Through Minimal Intervention:

Dominus Estate winemaking is inspired by the tradition of classic Bordeaux wines. Moueix adapted his French technical approach to the California climate and terroir, giving the vineyard maximum attention and applying dry farming measures to produce Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot grapes of the finest quality to be used in his minimalistic approach to winemaking.

The Dominus Estate produces two wines, in the style of a Bordeaux chateau: its eponymous First Wine and the more youthful, exuberant, and approachable Napanook. Through both wines, Moueix aims to convey the genuine character of the fruit and the subtle intricacies of the Napanook terroir.

The estate’s Dominus cuvée is a blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, although the exact percentage varies by vintage. These wines age for 18 months in French oak barrels of which only around 40-50% is new, in order to ensure a pure expression of varietal characters, terroir and vintage – which is also close to what takes place at the Moueix wines in Pomerol.

Fermentations are carried out on a plot-by-plot basis, in order to achieve more complexity in the blended wine. During maceration, gentle pump-overs extract as much colour, tannins, and flavour compounds from the skin as possible. Then, the grapes are delicately pressed in a vertical wine press at an extremely low pressure, to gently release what is still left in the skins without bruising them too much. The wines are racked barrel to barrel in French oak barrels to remove sediments during the maturation process. Finally, they are fined with egg whites (a traditional practice of Bordeaux) before bottling.

Dominus wines tend to be full-bodied, energetic, and vivacious with beautifully polished, fine tannins and a lively backbone framing blue and black fruit. The fruit is complemented by herbaceous touches of lavender, aniseed, and wild thyme, as well as earthy notes of forest floor. Built to age, these wines evolve exceptionally well in the bottle over a period of 25-30 years.

Napanook, whose first vintage was 1996, is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot (along with Merlot and Malbec, for some vintages). The fruit is selected from the Napanook vineyard for this wine and tends to be livelier, fresher, and have more of a varietal-forward character. The wine is matured in oak of which only 20% is new, resulting in a more approachable, casual, and fruity expression of the same unique terroir.

At the 2017 Best Wine of the World Competition (BWW), out of 22,500 wines submitted, Dominus Estate 2008, after winning its category, was also named Winner of The People’s Choice Award.

Dhall & Nash is honoured to announce the upcoming release of the iconic wines of Dominus:

2006 Dominus Estate

(91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot)

“The wine is slightly more fruit-forward than the 2005 but has a dark ruby/purple colour and a beautiful nose of liquorice, cedar, and espresso roast along with black currant and cherry notes. The wine is medium to full-bodied, has slightly more elevated and noticeable tannin than the 2005 (at least at this stage), builds a nicely textured mouthfeel as it sits on the palate, and has impressive length.” 96/100 points. Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate

“Intense, powerful and tightly tannic, with a complex mix of smoke, tobacco, green olive, herbs and black spice to go with ripe cassis/black cherry fruit. Multi-layered, even in infancy.” 19/20 points. Linda Murphy, JancisRobinson.com

 

2006 Vintage Summary:
The 2006 growing season started late; bud-break was delayed by very wet and cold weather throughout winter and early spring. An exceptionally hot mid-summer season helped accelerate growth. By the end of July, when temperatures soared over 100°F on eight days, the vines had entered into a more typical cycle. Beautiful weather followed in August, with characteristic warm days and cool nights. Mid-veraison was observed on August 8. Mild temperatures throughout the months of September and October allowed for increased hang-time and favored perfect ripening.


2008 Dominus Estate

“Made in a more masculine style, the 2008 Dominus has all of that along with bigger body and more structure, fat, density and texture. Both are brilliant wines, and they represent the finest back-to-back vintages for Dominus since 2001 and 2002 or 1990 and 1991. Both the 2007 and 2008 Dominus should drink well for 25-30 years…” 99/100 points. Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate

“Very Bordeaux-like in its makeup and structure, this firm wine has good acidity and tight tannins, offering complex loamy earth, vivid dried currant and berry, with anise and mineral sprinkled in. This is my favourite young Dominus of late.” 94/100 points. James Laube, Wine Spectator

2008 Dominus Napanook

“…may be one of the greatest Napanooks made. It is a deeper, richer, more intense wine with full body, an endearing texture, and a long, pure finish. These two are ‘take your pick’ vintages, but wine enthusiasts would probably be remiss in not having both 2007 and 2008 in their cellars.” 93/100 points. Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate

 

2008 Vintage Summary:
A challenging year for viticulturists yet extremely rewarding for winemakers, 2008 was conditioned by uncommonly low precipitation throughout the winter and spring. Starting in mid-March through late April, cold mornings threatened the young shoots with frost while dramatic temperature fluctuations during flowering hampered pollination, resulting in few berries per cluster. Reduced water reserves in the soil limited vigour, decreased berry size and generated record low yields. With six days over 100ºF, the summer was warm; a peak of 104ºF was recorded on August 28th. The end of September marked the start of a quick and high-quality harvest characterized by evenly ripened grapes.


2009 Dominus Estate

“…flows from the glass with layers of highly expressive fruit. The wine possesses stunning richness, power, and depth. Dark red fruit, tobacco, flowers, and spices are woven into a seamless, beautifully articulated finish. Elegance and intensity are in perfect harmony here. This is a thrilling wine from Dominus.” 97+/100 points. Antonio Galloni, The Wine Advocate

“The only vintage where it was great in both Napa and Bordeaux, according to Christian Moueix. Warm and sweet, almost burnt, on the nose and very round until refined, almost burnt chocolatey notes on the palate. But lovely and cool on the finish. Very clean and glossy. Lovely balance. Is it a fault to be too pleasant at a young age? Even rounder than the 2007.” 18/20 points. Jancis Robinson

“Good ruby-red colour, more saturated than the Napanook. Knockout floral lift to the aromas of black raspberry, blueberry, blond tobacco, almond and mint. Suave, savoury and extremely precise, with penetrating flavours of dark berries, liquorice, minerals, and cocoa powder. The finishes show outstanding length, noteworthy juiciness, and firm, noble tannins. A great vintage for Dominus.” 95/100 points. Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar

2009 Dominus Napanook

“The 2009 Napanook is simply glorious. Sweet dark cherries, mint, tobacco, wildflowers, and liquorice all jump from the glass. The 2009 is a juicy, extroverted Napanook that impresses for its sheer pleasure and total harmony. Layers of fruit continue to build onto the huge, creamy finish.” 93/100 points. Antonio Galloni, The Wine Advocate

 

2009 Vintage Summary:
2009 was characterized by an ideal season. Plentiful rainfall in February and May abated winter drought concerns, and a mild spring with few temperature fluctuations contributed to even bud break and healthy bloom. Summer temperatures were consistently warm, without excessive heat spikes, and a long Indian summer allowed the berries to develop perfect complexity and ripeness. Harvest was an intense effort, beginning on October 5th and was completed on October 12th, just before the heavy rainfall on October 13th.

 

“The Estate’s 2009 is a much more spherical wine,” noted assistant winemaker Tod Mostero. “It offers lovely balance and nuance, and no one element stands out today.”

As one of the most respected wine producers in the world, Christian Moueix has been on a personal quest for perfection in grape growing and winemaking. It is a journey that began in Bordeaux and continues today at Dominus Estate, where he has instilled his philosophy and inspired his team.

Thanks to his vision, Dominus wines taste like serious First Growth Bordeaux, but also possess the ripe fruit characteristics from Napa Valley. This is Napa terroir, but with a Bordeaux spirit! They have a saturated dark brooding core, powerful sumptuousness, yet with tightly-gathered elegance and the balance of a prima ballerina.

The Dominus wines are a must-buy for any serious wine collector and connoisseur. Here at Dhall & Nash we never seem to get enough Dominus to meet demand, and with these scores and accolades, these wines will be snapped up quickly. Therefore, the time is perfectly ‘ripe’ to buy now to assure you won’t miss out on these ICONIC wines!

To place an order, please send an email to us at orders@dnfinewine.com.

 

…Obviously, wines of this calibre deserve the most royal treatment. If you’ve not got a cellar to house these in, why not talk to us about utilizing our cool-storage? We have a state-of-the-art wine storage facility that stays at a cool 13°C year-round. At only $1.50 per case, per month, we’re happy to keep your wines at their best for you and send them out when you need! Get in touch with us at info@dnfinewine.com.