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Dominus 2011, 2006, 1996 & 1991

August 30, 2020

Of all Napa wines, Dominus probably comes closest to matching true Bordeaux character measure-for-measure. Vines were first planted at the Napanook area in the early nineteenth century though the story of Dominus only began in 1982 when Christian Moueix teamed up with the owners there (the daughters of John Daniel Jr of Inglenook winery) to establish a Bordeaux blend. Moueix gained full control of the estate in 1995 and directed the winemaking there till 2008. Dominus truly needs more than twenty years in bottle to be at its best but once there, one is rewarded by a seamless elegant expression of fruit, terroir and craftsmanship of the highest order without calling attention to itself, perfectly balanced and proportioned, the sort of nirvana that all vignerons seek to attain but few succeed. Restaurant Ibid proved to be the fitting venue for this mini-vertical on 25 August 2020, where it was good to see Master Chef Woo Wai-Leong and his team doing well in the aftermath of Covid-19. Apart from the 1991 that was decanted, all wines were aired in bottle.

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2013 Nyetimber Blanc de Blancs from the restaurant list. Displaying a slight greenish hue, this English sparkling wine exudes real class and sophistication with a complex bouquet of smoky light earthy pungency, yielding excellent clarity with subtle nuances of delicate lime and green fruits on an open supple palate laced with light toast and yellow citrus that exert gentle intensity with a trace of sweetness within a cloak of very fine translucent bubbles, finishing with a lovely delicate lift. Wonderfully harmonious.

2011 Dominus, courtesy of Dolly. Deep crimson. Distinct nose of green capsicum with more of incense coming on later. Medium-full. Rounded and fleshy, structured with pliant unobtrusive tannins that exert great suppleness with a relaxed quality, underscored by stony minerals that imparted a discernible trace of austerity before blossoming with a lovely velvety fullness of warm ripe fruit with recessed plummy tones, exuding great harmony. Destined for greatness. Will it turn out to be the new 1991?

2006 Dominus. Deep purple. Understated bouquet of raspberries, mulberries and currants. Medium-full, imbued with a controlled intensity of fruit within soft rounded tannins amid a hint of green capsicum with a spicy tinge, gaining in suppleness and intensity as it became more open over time. Less opulent than the 2011 and still a little unsettled at this stage.

1996 Dominus, courtesy of Marc. Deep crimson. Open and brightly lit with an inviting spread of mature red fruits and cherries, again with that signature trace of capsicum. Highly focused on the palate with a distilled essence, revealing a delicious deep gentle vein of blueberries, black currants and camphor as it settled with relaxed intensity and fine complexity, just a tad short. At its best.

1991 Dominus, courtesy of Russ. Dusky red. Fully mature with an open soft fleshiness, somewhat distant with an understated intensity of fruit though its harmony, refinement and elegance is never called into question as it tapered to a sweet delicious finish. A little more reserved and introspective than a previous bottle tasted earlier this month but what a privilege still.

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