TN: 2002 Dominus (Et tu, Christian?)

What happened here?

Decanted and served blindly. This was inky. Little nose. On the palate, the first impression was alcohol – hot and dense. I tentatively guessed a California cab from the framework, but it had no varietal character. Eventually I guessed northern Napa Valley. Someone else guessed syrah.

Hot on the finish.

This was labeled at 14.1%, but seemed kind of out of whack.

Was this an aberrant vintage? What happened to the restraint of Dominus?

(The bottle had been in temperature control and I believe was purchased around the time of release.)

Hasn’t Dominus been moving to a more open, riper style for a handful of years now?

I haven’t had enough to know the pattern/trend. A couple of Napanooks in recent years seemed to be more in the style that Moeuix originally aimed for.

The 2013 Napanook is massive, almost a port-like density. Not candied, just huge.

I had this 8 years back…I liked it…had some old school dustiness to it…not sure if this is just phase.

We just had the 2008 Estate last weekend and was beautiful, showing off perfectly ripe fruit with harmony and balance. Same experience with a 1997. Interestingly we had a flawed bottle of 2002 a few years back but the winery refused to replace it for us??

Had a 2002 over Thanksgiving. Did not take notes but recall that it was good but not the best Dominus that we have had. And that we should drink the last bottle of 02 sooner rather than later. Plan to open it over Christmas. Hope it is better than the OPs experience. Our exposure to Dominus is from the mid 90s and 01 and 02. Did not realize the style had changed from then.

To me it makes more sense to distinguish several eras at Dominus:

  1. the beginning through late 80s: classically proportioned wines with pretty firm, rustic tannins
  2. late-'80s through 1993: more refined wines with more elegant tannins and a touch more alcohol, but still very Bordelais and classically proportioned
  3. 1994-1996: an up-tick in ripeness, giving the wines a more broad-shouldered, obviously Californian feel, though they are aging nicely
  4. 1997-2007: Boris Champy’s time as winemaker, definitely a continuation of phase (3), and I have been surprised to see the wines losing a bit of freshness and precision as they age, with more of a porty side than they showed when they were younger
  5. 2008 to the present: Tod Mostero’s period as winemaker, I find the wines very vibrant and focused even though they are weighing in at the same or higher abvs than in era (4), some of the most exciting in the valley and along with my era (2) the most exciting run of Dominus vintages to my palate.

Would be interested to hear other opinions.

One’s “perfectly ripe fruit” is another’s “port-like…”

To be clear, the bottle I tasted was not porty. But the fruit was ripe enough that it was hard to tell what the grape was.

I find that attribute in cult California cabernets, often enough.

Agreed on the port comment

When did dominus creep to the $250+ price point? I havent been a purchaser in some time, but dont recall it being this steep of a buy in. Maybe it hasnt changed, but I’ve gotten stingy?

When it got triple 100s!

So now it is much better. My old ones only got 98.


Just entering the drinking window imo. Great bottle of wine. 3rd Mag fm six. Bought on release. Still a buy in my book.

Lots of dominus out there at ~$100. The 2006 – the only one I own! – is ~$135 now (I bought at $79, I think) and is very highly regarded. Or at least bboomer on CT liked it:

The wine looks ruby colored. The legs are slow. There is light sediment in the bottle.
It smells like black currant (cassis) and blackberry. The body is full. The wine has smooth texture. The wine finishes long. The wine has medium acidity.

I stopped reading after legs.

Slow legs too.

last 2002 Dominus opened Friday Dec. 23. Pulled cork and drank immediately with family.

Color was good. Nice ruby/garnet tones that struck me as about right. First nose had floral notes that jumped out. Tannins were not an issue. Liked the mouth feel, not in the Pinot realm but silky came to mind a couple times. Medium body. Have always had a hard time describing Dominus fruit profiles but this was mostly in line with 90s and 01\02s that I’ve had before. Not some weird outlier. It was enjoyed. The only negative thing was that a cedar note crowded the fruit notes on the finish. The next night we opened a 01 Ridge MB which of course has a different flavor profile. The two wines had some things in common except the MB had fruit that lingered longer for a better finish.

A few days after reading the OP I decided I’d give one of these a try. Certainly not the best Dominus I’ve had. That’d be the 91. But it was in no way out of whack or an example of an aberrant vintage. Reminding me of the 80’s Dominus it seemed quite restrained with many years left to improve.