Tasting T3.16 Dominus Estate

Today we are looking at a very specific Estate as you can probably tell from the title! The Dominus Estate is run and owned by Christian Moueix who has had an extraordinary life to say the least. Born in Libourne, France in 1946 he grew up working across his family estates and in 1970 was given the responsibility of managing his family’s Chateaux… which included Petrus. He managed Petrus for over 38 years and today directs several family Chateaux across Pomerol, La Fleur-Petrus and Saint-Emilion to name just a few.

In 1983 Christian began producing Dominus from the Napanook vineyard in Yountville in the Napa Valley AVA. In 2008 he acquired more land in the shape of a 40-acre vineyard in Oakville. It was in the Napanook Vineyard that George Yount planted the first vines in 1838. The terroir is almost perfect with underground springs that provide natural supply of water to the vines allowing them to develop deep roots. Napanook vineyard has 134 acres of which 102 are planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. So clearly re-creating Bordeaux Blends in a very different climate. There are also key visions here with Sustainability and Adaptive Viticulture being main-stays of how the vines are looked after. Sorting is thorough once the harvest is finished and a minimalist approach to the winemaking is practiced. This allows the wine to really show off the terroir of the Napanook vineyard.

Safe to say this is a top Estate with cracking wines.

Tonight’s tasters are David, Harry, Kim & Jen.

Dominus Estate Othello 2014

92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot

Note: Immediate eucalyptus and herbaceous aromas with red cherries, damson and rosemary. Silky smooth on the palate with lots of elegance and finesse of body. Very supple and has quite a feminine touch to it. Ample fruit across the mid-palate with vegetal notes particularly expressive. Tannins are fine and continuing to offer great mouthfeel. Lovely acidity running through adding great freshness with a lovely long finish. This is a great cabernet and at only £35 a bottle it is really quite something. Drinking beautifully now and will continue to evolve over the next 5-8 years.

Dominus Estate Othello 2013

82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc and 7% Petit Verdot

Note: Intense aromas of black cherries, raspberries, plums and lots of vegetation. Cedar and oak also nicely coming through. Smooth and powerful on the palate with intense fruit and structure on the taste. Similar fruit characteristics in the mouth with those dark fruits taking centre stage. Tannins are nicely present and embedding really well. Some impressive tight acidity here which really assists in cutting through the power of the fruit and tannins. I genuinely believe this to still be in its infancy and will do well to cellar for another 5 years. This will then become absolutely stunning and will drink well for another decade.

Dominus Estate Napanook 2014

88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc.  

Note: This is pure fruit on the nose. Redcurrants, raspberries and black cherries. Some nice cedar and oak again coming through with hints of graphite interestingly! Really big and gourmand on the palate with layers of texture. Excellent purity of fruit with a depth of flavour that offers up lovely cedar and vanilla notes. There is long acidity and pure, fine tannins that will give this wine such longevity and age ability. Complex and broad, this is really lovely. Drinking so well now and will certainly evolve over the next 8-10 years.

Dominus Estate Napanook 2012

95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot.

Note: Lots of earthy aromas with vegetation and eucalyptus prominent. Lovely red fruit aromas with cherries and redcurrants but the savoury notes are classic. Fine tannins with a smooth and luscious body, really silky smooth. I must say this is so elegant, I expected more bite from the tannins but this is just seamless. This is pure, clean and lively acidity cuts through any fat right to the finish. Lovely, long and just gorgeous, like watching the sunset over the ocean. Drinking stunningly now and will certainly continue for another 7-10 years, most likely more. No sign of this slowing down.

Dominus Estate Dominus 2012

93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc.

Note: Lovely black cherries, raspberries and prunes on the nose. Vanilla and cedar also coming through. Early observations… this is elegance at its best. Pure and complex in every way, fantastic mid palate weight with great texture. Tannins are fine and nicely embedded offering great longevity of fruit with a vibrant and tangy acidity. Fruit is certainly king on the palate but those vegetal notes really do add depth. Sublime and epic, drinking perfectly now and will continue to evolve for at least another decade.

Dominus Estate Dominus 2008

83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot.

Note: Strong dark fruit nuances with prunes, black cherries, blackberry leaf and vegetal aromas. On the palate the wine is unctuous and delicious. Both depth of flavour and serious concentration of fruit is fantastic. This is bold and stunning with a dreamy, luscious body. Tannins are fine and sincere with saline acidity just lifting the whole body. It is brooding and powerful with such finesse at its core. Timeless, drink now and over the next decade.


To say that these wines were inspiring would be detrimental to how good they actually are. However, to then realise that they are all from the same estate is mind blowing to say the least. A true pinnacle of quality in such a talented field as well. Coming from Napa valley you really do get almost tarnished with the idea that your wines should be the best in the world (or at least competing with the best in the world). Safe to say Dominus Estate really does do that, to have 6 wines all 94 points or above is genuinely impressive (sorry spoiler alert!). It is something that Christian Moueix should be extremely proud of.

The scores:

Othello 2014 – 94 Points

Othello 2013 – 94 Points

Napanook 2014 – 95 Points

Napanook 2012 – 96+ Points

Dominus 2012 – 97 Points

Dominus 2008 – 99 Points

I hope you enjoyed the article and my sincerest apologies for the radio silence. We will be back next week with another article to enjoy!

Harry Vernau

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