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.
A blend of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot and 8% Cabernet Franc aged in 40% new oak, the 2016 Proprietary Red Wine is deep purple-black in color and quite reticent at this youthful stage to begin, offering up subtle notions of potpourri, Indian spices, cigar box and iron ore over a core of crushed blackberries and black cherries with intermittent wafts of black and red currants, new leather and smoked meats. The palate is medium to full-bodied with a densely packed mid-palate and oodles of freshness framed by very ripe, finely grained tannins and laced with compelling earthy accents. It offers incredible vibrancy with tons of black and red fruit sparkle in the mid-palate leading to a provocative mineral element on the very long finish. If I could give more than 100 for this one, I would.
100 points, Wine Advocate (October 2018)
Another possible legend in the making is the 2016 Dominus, a classic blend of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot and the rest Cabernet Franc brought up in 40% new French oak. Pure, pristine notes of charcoal, cold fireplace, smoke tobacco, and both blue and black fruits all flow to a full-bodied 2016 that has incredible elegance and finesse, yet also depth and density. It’s more backward and reserved than the 2015 and needs 4-5 years of cellaring. It will unquestionably live for 25-30 years.
98+ points, JebDunnuck.com (January 2019)
The opulence of fresh flowers and dark fruit is so impressive. There’s so much going on, from flowers to currants. The palate is full and powerful, but what impresses most are the ripe tannins and the amazing poise at the finish. Tightens down at the end. A blend of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot and 8% Cabernet Franc.
98 points, JamesSuckling.com (December 2018)
This marries a range of old-school savory, tobacco, chestnut and bay leaf notes with a dense and muscular core of dark currant and blackberry fruit, all backed by a loam-swaddled finish. Long and dense, but defined, with the fruit steadily emerging to win out in the end. Patience is required. Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc.
95 points, Wine Spectator (October 2019)
...the 2016 has a distinct charm that is all its own. Quite frankly, I can't remember a young Dominus with this combination of fruit density, freshness and polished tannins. A huge center of fruit emerges with time in the glass in a big, large-scaled Dominus that should provide readers with a long drinking window of pure pleasure once some of the baby fat wears off.
97 points, Vinous (December 2018)