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Dominus is created by French winemaker Christian Moueix, who crafted the wines of Chateau Petrus (a bottle of which recently sold at auction as one of the most expensive wines ever sold). The Dominus estate owns the historic Napanook Vineyard that was the base of so many of the historic Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignons of the 1950s and 1960s. It is considered one of the finest reds of Napa Valley.
Christian Moueix’s approach to creating wines of stature and longevity in Napa’s fertile and warm climate wasn’t always as popular as it is today. It started with his search for the perfect piece of land where he could realize his dream of creating a Napa Valley Cabernet to rival the First Growths of Bordeaux. This didn’t happen overnight, in fact the entire vineyard that feeds Dominus was reorganized and replanted over the last three decades to take better advantage of the varieties, expositions and spacing that would best express this esteemed terroir. The introduction of Tod Mostero as vineyard manager and winemaker was another big step in the right direction.
Dominus Estate, Yountville, California, was established in 1983 by Christian Moueix. Situated on the famed Napanook vineyard, it was, in the 1940’s and 1950’s, the source of fruit for some of the finest Napa Valley wines. In fact, the vineyard’s history can be traced back to Napa Valley’s beginnings, when in 1838 George Yount, for whom the town of Yountville was named, first planted grapevines there. Today, this historic vineyard produces three wines: Dominus, its flagship, Napanook, and Othello.
Christian Moueix chose the name ‘Dominus’ (‘lord of the estate’ in Latin) to underscore his longstanding commitment to the land. Rooted in values of quality, stewardship, tradition and innovation, the Dominus Estate team shares a vision of producing distinctive wines that are expressive of this singular terroir.
The vineyard is entirely dry-farmed, allowing the vines to draw deeply on the land’s unique geology. The viticulture and winemaking are undertaken meticulously, with the objective of producing wines that are pure, balanced and complex. Minimal intervention and restraint throughout the process of grape berry selection, fermentation and aging preserve the character of the fruit. The resulting wines, with a tremendous potential for aging, convey the very personality of this historic vineyard.
Known for its complexity and balance, Dominus demonstrates the potential of a wine produced on exceptional terroir. Structured, seamless and perfectly integrated, Dominus is an elegant wine that improves with age.
In 1997, a winery designed by the Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron was completed. Due to strict enforcement of Napa county regulations, it is closed to the public.
To celebrate the 30th vintage of Dominus Estate, the 2013 label dons a special portrait of Christian Moueix by South African artist William Kentridge. The 2013 Dominus recalls the ‘portrait series’ of the earliest vintages (1983-1990), when noted artists depicted Christian Moueix on the labels.
In 2021, Dominus Estate received its CCOF ("California Certified Organic Farmers") certification for organic farming practices.
VIneyards: 42 hectares (103 acres)
Soil: Gravelly and clay loam
Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot
- Certified organic farming practices
- Dry-farming (no irrigation)
- Soil tillage (French plow)
- Vine growth management adapted to the climatic conditions
- Manual harvest ; sunny side of the vines picked a few days before the shady side.
- Manual and optical sorting
- Gentle pump-overs and extraction
- 18 months in French oak barrels (40% new)
The 1983 Dominus Estate is the first vintage produced by the John Daniel Society made solely from grapes grown at their Napanook Vineyard in Yountville, California. When the 1983 growing season produced wines with slow-aging tannins, the partners broke with tradition and offered the 1984 vintage as their first release. After a year of additional bottle age, the 1983 Dominus Estate was released in February, 1989.
The wine is composed of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot. The 1983 growing season was quite warm, with a very hot September, resulting in extraordinary concentration of aroma, flavor and tannin.
The 1983 Dominus Estate has a dark ruby color, a complex nose and rich notions of cassis. The wine is full bodied with a deep tannic structure that will assure it many more years of life. Christian Moueix recommends decanting this wine before serving to allow it to develop its full potential.
The label artist for 1983 was Sam Szafran, born in Paris in 1934, and known for his work with pastels.
The Napa Valley experienced an extremely rainy winter (69.7 inches vs. 35.68 inches average), followed by a moderately hot summer and a very hot September. Ten days in September were over 97 degrees, resulting in rapid maturation; sugars went from 21.3 on 9/10 to 22.8 on 9/14.
BEGINNING DATE OF HARVEST: September 13
FINAL DATE OF HARVEST: September 19
PERCENTAGE OF NEW BARRELS: 20%
BOTTLING DATE: December 1985
9-LITER CASES PRODUCED: 2100
RELEASE DATE: February 1989