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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 1986 Dominus Estate is the fourth vintage produced by the John Daniel Society, and, as always, the grapes for this wine were grown solely at Napanook Vineyard in Yountville, California. This vintage marks the first of the “second series” of Dominus Estate — the 1986, 1987, and 1988 vintages use Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc in the blend, which introduces a floral, herbal character and added complexity.
The varietal composition of the 1986 Dominus Estate is 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc and 8% Merlot. The 1986 growing season was marked by very high winter rainfall and an unusually cool summer, which made the timing of harvest crucial to ensure full maturity.
The 1986 Dominus Estate has a deep ruby color and a rich nose reminiscent of ripe cherries, with elegance, finesse and excellent balance. Christian Moueix recommends decanting this wine before serving to allow it to develop its full potential.
The label artist for the 1986 vintage is the well-known American artist Jim Dine.
Vintage Summary: Seasonal rainfall was 53.93 inches vs. 35.68 inches normal. We had heavy rainfall and flooding in February. Summer was very cool with only three days over 100 degrees (two of these were in June), and only nine days over 95 degrees.
BEGINNING DATE OF HARVEST: September 8
FINAL DATE OF HARVEST: October 6
PERCENTAGE OF NEW BARRELS: 20%
BOTTLING DATE: January 1989
9-LITER CASES PRODUCED: 6200
RELEASE DATE: November 1990