Wine 8

TN: 1985 Dominus Estate, Napa Valley Red Table Wine

zin1953 | Apr 3, 201207:36 AM

This is, of course, the classic "Bordeaux blend" produced by Christian Moueix. The 1985 vintage is an 80/20 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from the Napanook (estate) vineyard. The wine spent 16 months aging in French oak (20 percent new), was bottled in 1987, and released for sale in 1989. It has been in my cellar since release.

The bottle had been standing up for about six months -- basically because I *was* going to serve it one evening, plans were changed, and I forgot about it . . . until I stumbled across the bottle Sunday evening when looking for something to serve with the Bavette steak Lynn picked up from the butcher. What the heck . . . no company meant more for us! ;^) Then again, the wine was 26-1/2 years old, so perhaps . . . well, I grabbed a second bottle (a 2004 Douro Red) as a backup, just in case.

The cork had dried out a little, and was difficult to remove. That means about half of it came out, albeit with some difficulty, and the rest shredded. All in all, with great care, I was able to get about 90-95 percent of the cork out, and only a tiny bit fell into the wine. I then decanted the wine, as I had planned to do anyway to separate the wine from the ample, finely grained sediment.

The result was a clean, clear decanter of garnet-colored wine. In the glass, the wine was deep garnet, shading to brick-red at the rim, clear and bright. The bouquet is classic Bordeaux -- yes, Bordeaux; I doubt I would ever pick this as a California wine (let alone Napa Valley) were it served blind. The nose is filled with pencil lead-and-cedar notes that I associate with Pauillac, or perhaps Graves, rather than the lush, opulent fruit of Napa Valley. In addition there were layered notes of red currant, black cherry, hint of cassis, saddle leather, dusty earth, a touch of oak -- all married together seamlessly. On the palate, the flavors echo the bouquet, with mature flavors of currants, cherries, earth, oak, earth; there is still good acidity and moderate tannins -- more evident when tasting the wine alone, when the tannins are a touch drying at the back of the palate, but when served with the rare steak, the finish is clean with lingering flavors, while the wine's acidity refreshes the palate.

Simply stated, this is one of the finest California Cabernets and/or Cabernet-based wines I've ever had -- easily placing itself on my (arbitrary) Top Ten List with wines ranging across six decades of vintages going back to the 1950s . . .


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