La Dominique is a Grand Cru Classe growth of Saint-Émillion, leading the way in many fields of modernisation and innovation amongst the chateaux of Bordeaux.
Owner Clement Fayat has spent decades on improving everything from vinification facilities, to drainage, to the cellars, to a bright red (and controversially visible from a distance) vat house completed in 2013.
Benefitting (similarly to their famous neighbours, Ch. Cheval Blanc) from a proximity to Pomerol, La Dominique produces Merlot-led wines that combine vigour and elegance.
Deep colour. Fresh intense dark plum elderberry praline aromas with fresh herb garden violet aniseed notes. Inky and vigorous with plenty of dark plummy fruits, supple yet chewy textures, underlying savoury ginger oak complexity and long lively acidity. Finishes bitter sweet. and inky. Quite classical in proportion. Tasted at the Union des Grand Crus and Ch La Dominique
Layered and juicy with lots of ripe fruit and soft tannins. Decadent and generous. Lots going on here.
The 2016 La Dominique is powerful, dense and explosive. Mocha, plum, lavender, sweet spice and menthol are some of the many notes that flesh out in the glass. Exotically ripe and voluptuous, but not at all heavy, the 2016 possesses superb balance and integration of all of its elements. The style leans on overt ripeness and density. Readers should expect a decidedly concentrated, rich Saint-Émilion. Michel Rolland is the consultant. Tasted three times.
Dark purple. Some peppery freshness on the nose. Fully ripe fruit. Real focus, length and integrity to this wine. Nothing out of balance. Straight for the tasting jugular. Long.
The 2016 La Dominique was tasted on several occasions. Deep in color, it has a blackberry and bilberry-scented bouquet, a touch of oyster shell developing in the glass. There is intensity here, but it is tightly coiled. The palate is medium-bodied with crisp tannin, showing more freshness at the Rolland Laboratory tasting than elsewhere, a dash of spice with a structured, saline finish. This was more promising than recent vintages that I have tasted and hopefully augurs for what is in bottle. There was some variation here, hence the question mark against my banded score.
St.-Émilion is the star of Bordeaux’s Right Bank, north of the Dordogne River. The rich red wines produced in St.-Émilion, based on Merlot and Cabernet Franc, are less tannic and generally more fruit-driven in flavour than the Cabernet-based wines of Left Bank. Merlot thrives on the plateaus high above the Dordogne, where the soil is filled with sand and clay, a perfect medium for creating opulent, fruit-forward wines. With a typically savoury character, St.-Émilion wines are sometimes called the “Burgundies of Bordeaux.” These refined reds, with loads of finesse, are elegant companions to beef, chicken, pork and duck.
The wines of St.-Émilion were not included in the famous 1855 classification of Bordeaux, which ranked wines of the Left Bank. In 1955, St.-Émilion published its own classification, based on soil analysis, wine quality and reputation of the properties. Unlike the 1855 classification, St.-Emilion’s system requires properties to continuously prove themselves. The list is revised regularly, most recently in 2012. There are two tiers within the classification, Premier Grand Cru Classé and Grand Cru Classé. There are currently just 18 Premier Grand Cru properties and 64 Grand Cru Classé properties.
The St.-Émilion appellation is home to hundreds of individual producers, enhancing the variety of wines made there. Many of the properties remain small, family-run enterprises, unlike the large châteaux of the Left Bank. The area is also the base of France’s controversial micro-châteaux or garagiste wine movement; these innovative winemakers operate outside the traditional classification system, making very high quality (and very expensive) highly extracted wines.