James Suckling | 98 JS
James Suckling | 98 JS
An excellent wine, even if not a great Dominus, the 2020 Dominus delivers waves of dark fruit—think predominantly cassis. A blend of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc, it’s full-bodied and richly textured, perhaps a bit warm and open-knit because of the summer’s heat, but with a long, velvety finish attractively tinged with mocha and dark chocolate.
Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 95 RP
This throws off dense kirsch and linzer torte aromas and flavors, along with a mix of smoldering tobacco, leather, warm paving stone and licorice root hints that provide a brooding edge on the back end. Surprisingly backward for the vintage and impressively done. Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Best from 2026 through 2040. 1,600 cases made.
Wine Spectator | 95 WS
Wine Details for 2020 Dominus
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: Whether it's Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah or Zinfandel, Californian red wine producers have a lovely habit of taking a varietal and expressing its essence in a unique, never before seen way. From Napa Valley to the regions south of Los Angeles, there's a red for everyone - and it's never too late to start exploring.
: Proprietary Blend is a general term used to indicate that a wine is comprised of multiple grape varietals which are either “proprietary” to the winery or is blended and does not meet the required maximum or minimum percentage of a particular varietal. This also is the case for the grape’s place of origin, especially for region, appellation or vineyard designated wines. There are endless examples of blended wines which are labeled as “Proprietary Blend” and in conjunction with each region’s stipulated wine laws and regulations makes for a vast blanket for wines to fall into. Perhaps the simplest example is California; if a wine is to be labeled as Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, it is required to have at least 75% of the varietal (Cabernet Sauvignon) and 85% of the fruit must be cultivated from the Napa Valley wine district. If the wine does not meet the requirements, it is then labeled as Proprietary Blend.
: As one of the most prolific and innovative wine regions in the world, America is a joy to explore. Most wine connoisseurs will agree that the nation's finest and most compelling wines are being produced today, which means that we have front-row seats to one of the most inspirational stories in wine history. While other regions tend to focus on specific wine styles and have somewhat strict rules as to which varietals you could grow, areas like California have few such restrictions in place. As a result, creative visionaries behind America's most reputable estates have been able to develop compelling, unique, and innovative styles, with a level of terroir expression that rivals even France's largest giants.
: With a history of wine production that dates back to the 18th century, California currently sits as one of the world's most prolific and reputable wine regions. With an area as vast as California, you can expect a colorful collage of terroir profiles, a series of microclimates, and micro-environments that give the wine a unique, memorable appeal. The region's produce is far from homogenized in that sense, and it would take you countless hours to sample all of it. While the region boasts scars from the Prohibition era, it went through what can only be described as a viticultural Renaissance sometime after the 1960s. At that point, California went from a port-style, sweet wine region to a versatile and compelling competitor on the world market. Today, no matter which way your taste in wine leans, you can find a new favorite producer among California's most talented.
Notable sub-regions include legendary names like Napa Valley and Sonoma County, places that any wine lover would die to visit. California's quintessential warm climate allows for incredibly ripe fruit expressions, a style that provides a stark contrast to Old World-inspired, earthy classics. Even where inspiration was clearly taken from staple French appellations, Californian winemakers put their own unique spin on the wine.
: With an Estate motto, “Napa terroir, Bordeaux spirit,” it’s safe to assume that Dominus is where Old World crashes into New World winemaking. The saying is fitting as there is a rich history in both the 103-acre vineyard West of Yountville, as well as the proprietor who has a deep family tradition of winemaking in Bordeaux. The site that had been the source of fruit for some of the finest Napa Valley wines of the 1940’s and 1950’s has become a Napa Valley giant with the power, style and finesse of a classic Bordeaux.
The historic Napanook Vineyard dates back to the 1850’s when the land was first cultivated. Many vintners’ hands have been in the soil here, but it most notably became of incredible quality in the 1940’s when Inglenook enjoyed great success in Napanook. John Daniel, a well-known vintner and pioneer in Napa, purchased the property in 1946 and the fruit from Napanook was integral to Inglenook wines between 1946 and 1964. Inglenook sold, but the Napanook Vineyard was retained and ultimately handed down to his daughters, Robin Lail and Marsha Smith.
During this time, a young Christian Moueix, who had been studying Oenology at Davis had fallen in love with California. With an already impressive resume and family heritage of wine making, Moueix, mostly due to his work in Pomerol and family Chateaux of Petrus, Trotanoy, and La Fleur Petrus, began working at Beaulieu Vineyards in an attempt to learn more about viticulture practices in the Golden State. In 1982, through an introduction via Robert Mondavi, Moueix and the daughters of John Daniel come into a partnership and Dominus bottled its first vintage in 1983. By 1995 Moueix had become the sole proprietor.
Moueix chose the name Dominus or “Lord of the Estate” in Latin, to underscore his longstanding commitment to stewardship of the land. The property consists of 3 unique soil types; gravel based volcanic soil, clay and loam on a rolling terroir. The vineyard is dry-farmed allowing the vines to draw deeply on the land’s unique geology. Moueix is meticulous in his viticulture and winemaking strategy, with the objective of producing wines that are pure, balanced and complex. His minimal intervention and restraint throughout the process of grape berry selection and fermentation preserves the fruit. This results in tremendous potential for aging, and for conveying the personality of the historic vineyard.
Both the Flagship, Dominus Estate and the Napanook second wine are primarily comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon, with smaller amounts of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot to round out a well-balanced Bordeaux styled wine bred in the soil of Napa Valley. While the flagship certainly has potential to age 20 plus years, the Napanook has earned its own personality known for its ability to drink early and being food friendly. It too however, over the years has developed into a more complex wine earning the potential of aging at least 10 years. Between the two bottlings there is an annual production rate of 12,000 cases, though the flagship rarely produces over 5,000 of those cases due to a strict and diligent picking process.
Christian Moueix, “The Lord of the Estate,” over a well committed period of time has developed one of Napa’s greatest Estates. Hailing from California, having roots in France, Dominus Estate has risen to the forefront of Napa Valley. This clashing of New and Old World winemaking has created a unique niche and one that collectors and enthusiasts have become elated over. Napa terroir, Bordeaux Spirit… how can there be a more accurate depiction of this incredible Estate.