Taste of Wine – French Wine in Napa Valley

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dominus EstateI pay attention to an e mail from Jim Barrasso, the energeticowner of Firefly Grill and Wine Bar in Encinitas.Barrasso has a keen sense of wine bargains and occasionally will share this good fortune with hiscustomers.One day recently he flashed “I have been offered a great buy on a limited number of six packs of one of the most iconic and collectable wines fromNapaValley, the 2007 Dominus Estate.”

Dominus is owned by the legendary right bankBordeauxwinery, Chateau Petrus and its Dominus 2007 scored 98 points from critic Robert Parker. Barrasso was offering a 30% discount.I was there in a flash.Parker proclaimed “the 2007 Dominus, the quintessential model of haute couture, is pure elegance exhibiting a seemless integration of wood, tannin, alcohol and acidity, a complex bouquet of black current and plum fruit plus a notion of licorice. The 2007 should drink well for 25 to 30 years.”

In 1982, while President of the leading French Bordeaux Right Bank House of Jean-Pierre Moueix, that included the world-renowned ChateauPetrus, Christian Moueix (pronounced MOE-EX) saw the future inNapaValleyand purchased the Napanook Vineyard in Yountville. He adapted his French technical approach toCaliforniaconditions with dry farming, as both an ecological measure and a means to produce grapes of the finest quality. He later acquired the Schmidt Ranch inOakvillein 2008.

In a recent statement summing up his mission for Dominus wines, Moueix said “we combine centuries-old traditions of grape growing and wine making, with innovative practices to transform the highest quality grapes into fine wines with a great potential for aging.”

The 2007Dominus Estate($150.) is a blend of94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cab Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot.This is easily the top vintagein memory with complexity and a delicious texture which can only get better as the years go by, if you can wait any longer than 7 years.The current vintage is 2011. ( $139.)

Annual production is up to 12,000 cases which includes both Dominus and Napanook wines.2011 was a very difficult year forNapaValleywith huge rainfall at harvest time, persistent fog and meager yields.Vineyards had to be strict in their selection of grapes. When buying 2011, be site specific like Dominus and you will do fine.2012, as we have reported several times, the wines all over the state will be spectacular.See more atdominusestate.com.

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator.His columns can be viewed atwww.tasteofwinetv.com.He is one of the top wine commentators on the web.Reach him at[email protected].