99 Parker Points: Made in a more masculine style, the 2008 Dominus has all of that along with bigger body and more structure, fat, density and texture. Both are brilliant wines and they represent the finest back-to-back vintages for Dominus since 2001 and 2002 or 1990 and 1991. Both the 2007 and 2008 Dominus should drink well for 25-30 years.
This estate, owned by Christian Moueix, includes the famed Napanook Vineyard that was the base of so many of the historic Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignons of the 1950s and 1960s. Interestingly, they have completely eliminated Merlot from the bottling. The 2007 Dominus is a 5,400-case blend of 94% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. There are 4,200 cases of the 2008 Dominus which is composed of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. Lower yields resulted in a denser, more concentrated wine. The remarkable thing about these cuvees is that they smell like a hypothetical blend of a top Napa Cabernet Sauvignon and a serious Bordeaux, possibly a cross blend of a Pomerol and Pauillac. Both wines possess silky sweet tannins, which is the big difference between Dominus post-1990 and the first seven vintages, where the tannin content was relatively high. About 40% new oak is used in their upbringing.
P.S. In a couple of years, readers should be on the look-out for a new estate wine from Christian Moueix. One mile north of the Napanook Vineyard, Moueix has purchased a 36-acre, already planted parcel known as the Schmidt Ranch. I tasted some of the 2009 barrel samples and this appears to be another promising venture with a completely different personality a more obviously Napa Valley/Cabernet Sauvignon, ripe style of wine than the more elegant, complex Dominus. I’m not sure what the name will be, but it will definitely not be called the Schmidt Ranch.
Dominus, our premier wine, is produced from grapes grown on the renowned Napanook vineyard. These grapes are hand-selected from blocks that contain our older, mature vines.
We recommend decanting this wine prior to serving, to allow it to develop its full potential. This is especially important when serving young wines.
Dominus 2008 is a wine of great purity and definition, with distinct berry aromas and a supple yet precise palate. Deep blackberry and dark plums complement fine mineral notes. This wine is intensely perfumed, velvety and ethereal.
The 2008 vintage is a blend of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Cabernet Franc, and
4% Petit Verdot.
We recommend decanting the wine prior to serving, to allow it to develop its full potential. This is especially important when serving young Dominus wines.
A challenging year for viticulturists yet extremely rewarding for winemakers, 2008 was conditioned by uncommonly low precipitation throughout the winter and spring. Starting in mid-March through late April, cold mornings threatened the young shoots with frost while dramatic temperature fluctuations during flowering hampered pollination, resulting in few berries per cluster. Reduced water reserves in the soil limited vigor, decreased berry size and generated record low yields. With six days over 100ºF, the summer was warm; a peak of 104ºF was recorded on August 28th. The end of September marked the start of a quick and high-quality harvest characterized by evenly ripened grapes.
BEGINNING DATE OF HARVEST: September 19
FINAL DATE OF HARVEST: October 3
PERCENTAGE OF NEW BARRELS: 40%
BOTTLING DATE: June 2010
9-LITER CASES PRODUCED: 4500
RELEASE DATE: June 2011