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Christian Moueix is the son of a famed wine producer and merchant from Libourne, France. His family owns several French vineyards, including Chateaux Petrus and Magdelaine. Moueix went to school at the University of California in the 1960s and developed a deep love and appreciation for Napa Valley and the wines produced there.
Though he had to return to France in 1970 to run the family vineyards, his fascination with the Napa Valley only grew. In the early 1980s, he learned of the famous Napanook Vineyard, a one hundred and twenty-four acre estate that had provided grapes for many of the best wines from 1940 through 1959. He began developing the vineyard in 1982 and had his first harvest in 1983. The first Dominus Estate wine was bottled in 1985. By 1995 Mouiex had become the sole proprietor.
In the Napanook Vineyard, they grow Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varietals, including Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Which combinations they pair depends on many factors. Most often the blend is a large percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon and a much smaller percentage of a varietal grape or grapes. Their first vintage, Dominus Estate 1983 was eighty percent Cabernet Sauvignon and twenty percent Merlot, while their latest vintage, Dominus 2012, is composed of ninety-three percent Cabernet Sauvignon, two percent Cabernet Franc, and five percent Petit Verdot. In 1986 they began adding varietals other than Merlot to the blend and in 2003, they removed Merlot from the blend altogether, and have used Petit Verdot and/or Cabernet Franc, as weather and harvest permits.
Dominus considers their 1991 vintage to be the “most harmonious and elegant wine” produced in their first decade as a vineyard. This was the first year the wine was called simply “Dominus” instead of “Dominus Estate.” Another particularly exceptional vintage was the Dominus 1999. There was a sustained growing period that year, leading to a wine of “outstanding character and complexity.” Their 2005 is expected to age well and become a leading vintage too.
Though Dominus does not produce individual wines, in 1996, they also began vinting a second wine named Napanook, created from grapes grown in the same vineyard. It differs from Dominus in a few respects, including the continued inclusion of Merlot and the occasional addition of Malbec. It also relies more on the varietals for its creation, with a lower percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon than most Dominus vintages.