The 2008 Dominus may eclipse the 2007, but it may just be a matter of style. The 2007 Dominus, the quintessential model of haute couture, is pure elegance exhibiting a seamless integration of wood, tannin, alcohol and acidity as well as a complex bouquet of cedar, new saddle leather, sweet kirsch, black currant and plum fruit and a notion of licorice. 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.