Napa Wine, Bordeaux Character

By Robert Parker

I can't think of anyone other than Christian Moueix who could claim to produce one of the greatest wines in France and one of the best in the U.S. For more than three decades, Moueix has been the winemaker for Bordeaux's renowned Château Pétrus, which is owned by his brother Jean-François. Since 1983, Moueix also has been the winemaker for Dominus Estate in California's Napa Valley and, since 1995, the estate's sole owner.

Moueix brings to Napa savoir faire, impeccable attention to detail, and classic Bordeaux winemaking techniques. He has consistently produced wines that smell, taste, and age like great Bordeaux. That is a remarkable achievement, because Pétrus is virtually 100% merlot, while Dominus is largely 80% or more cabernet sauvignon.

Dominus' legendary vintages, if you can ever find any on a restaurant wine list, are the 1990, 1991, 1994, 1997, 2001, and 2002, but everything from this winery is of high quality. The following are tasting notes for the most recent vintages.

2001 Dominus

91 points.

The impeccably made 2001 (81% cabernet sauvignon, 10% cabernet franc, 4% merlot, and 5% petit verdot) boasts a dense plum/purple color in addition to a fragrant perfume of cocoa, cedar, coffee, roasted herbs, and black fruits. Rich and medium- to full-bodied, with sweet but noticeable tannin, a layered mid-palate, and a long finish, it will require three to four years of cellaring. It should last for two decades. $90-$145

2003 Dominus

95 points.

The estate made 4,800 cases of this blend (88% cabernet sauvignon, 7% cabernet franc, and 5% petit verdot). A big, sweet nose of roasted coffee, Provençal herbs, black currants, cherry jam, plums, allspice, and forest floor is followed by a spicy, rich, full-bodied, fragrant, intense wine. Anticipated maturity: 2007-2025. $95-$100

2002 Dominus

96 points.

The deep, saturated purple-colored 2002 boasts an extraordinary perfume of roasted coffee intermixed with black currants, cherries, cocoa, cedar, cigar smoke, and new saddle leather. A classic, full-bodied palate possesses great structure, tremendous depth, loads of tannin, and a multilayered, concentrated, yet elegant finish. It needs three to five years of bottle aging and should last for 25 years. $100-$140

2004 Dominus

94 points.

The elegant, dark plum/purple/garnet-colored 2004 exhibits a big, sweet perfume with cedar, mocha, black cherry liqueur, and black currant notes. It is medium- to full-bodied with silky tannin as well as a luscious mouthfeel and finish. This wine should be more accessible in its youth than many of its predecessors but ought to last for two decades. It will be released in June.

Wines rated from 96-100 are extraordinary; 90-95, excellent; 80-89, above average to very good.

Robert Parker is the world's most influential wine critic. Visit to see tens of thousands of tasting notes, buy his books, or subscribe to his newsletter, The Wine Advocate.

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