Dominus is the California estate of Christian Moueix, the Bordeaux negociant whose family owns Chateau Petrus and several other important Pomerol properties. Dominus made its first vintage in 1983 and Moueix has been sole owner since 1995.
The 50 hectare Napanook property, at Yountville in the Napa Valley, is planted to the classic Bordeaux varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon (80%); Cabernet Franc (10%); Merlot and Petit Verdot (5% each). Cabernet Sauvignon makes up the vast majority of the blend each year, with varying amounts of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Merlot has not been included since 2005.
Dominus spends around 18 months in French oak, of which 40-50% is new each year. The property had previously been the source of some of the Napa Valley's most important wines of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s (notably Inglenook). Today there is no doubt that Dominus consistently makes one of the greatest Napa Valley Cabernet-based blends.
Jeff Leve’s Wine Cellar Insider says: ‘Dominus is one of the best Napa wines to use in a blind tasting against Bordeaux wines. Its fresh style, balance and lack of over-ripeness make it a unique style of wine from the valley. Based on recent (2017) tastings of the 1991 and 1994 vintages, Dominus Estate has one of the best track records for aging as well’.
As pointed out by Robert Parker in a review of the 2015: There is a particular irony, in that Dominus contains no Merlot, despite its owner being, arguably, the world’s leading exponent of the variety.
The 2014 Dominus is endowed with tons of depth, power and muscle. Black cherry, plum, smoke, menthol, licorice, chocolate, dried herbs and dark spices are all pushed forward. Deep, pliant and exquisitely layered, the 2014 possesses tons of concentration and mid-palate depth. Like so many wines in this vintage, the 2014 comes across as a hybrid of 2013 and 2012. I very much like the energy and focus in this wine. This is a fabulous wine in every way. With time in the glass, the flavors gain in brightness and focus. There is certainly much to look forward to.
The 2014s, where the production of Napanook was only 2200 cases and Dominus slightly more than the 2015 at 4000 cases, was another early harvest, although somewhat later than 2015. The 2014 Dominus, which is 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc and 7% Petit Verdot really struts its stuff. Moueix’s belief in dry farming seems to be paying off with stronger and stronger vintages, each successive year, and the 2014 is a sexy, opulent, layered, multidimensional wine with notes of red and blackcurrant, cedar wood, tobacco leaf , spice box and licorice. The colour is a dense plum/ruby/purple, much like the Napanook. This is a beauty that is already drinking gorgeously –- as most 2014s are –- and will continue to evolve for 25 or so years. Drink to 2041.
97 points, Wine Advocate (10/2016).
Loads of dark tobacco aromas with blackcurrants and black olives. Boysenberries, too. Full to medium body, ultra-fine tannins and lots of flavours of smoke, dried roasted chillis, black truffles, mushrooms and fruit. Bright acidity on the finish. Sexy and subtle austerity. Alluring. Very approachable now but better in 2021.
98 points, jamessuckling.com (1/2017).
The 2014 Napa Valley reds have wonderful fruit character in aroma and flavour, yet there’s always a freshness, firmness and linear edge to the wines to give them focus and figure. They are less opulent than the bold and structured 2013s, perhaps the greatest vintage ever for Napa Valley. Even so, at the moment they tend to be more complex and approachable than the 2013s, which makes them extremely attractive to taste and drink now. 'The 2014s are really ethereal, whereas the 2013s are concentrated and structured,' explained Tod Mostero, the head winemaker of Dominus and Ulysses. 'The 2012s are more juicy'.
Coming from their valley floor site in Yountville, the 2014 Dominus is a rich, concentrated red, especially in 2014. A blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc and the rest Petit Verdot, it sports a deep ruby/plum color as well as a ripe nose of blackcurrants, unsmoked tobacco, lead pencil, licorice and smoked earth. With a ripe, full-bodied, concentrated style, sweet tannin, and a great finish, it has some similarities to the 1990 and will evolve for three decades or more.
97 points, Jeb Dunnuck (December 2017)