Enjoying a temperate climate, Dominus’s Napanook vineyard is rooted in well-drained volcanic clay-loam that is well-suited for Cabernet Sauvignon in particular and Bordeaux varietals in general. The land was first planted in 1838 by George Yount (who gave the nearby town of Yountville its name). Since then, the property has had several esteemed owners, including John Daniel, the owner of Inglenook, who included the grapes from the Napanook vineyard to his Inglenook blend. Christian Moueix began farming the land in 1982. It’s a special spot. Warm, dry summers are tempered by cooling breezes from the San Pablo Bay. The mid-valley location affords moderate temperatures, even through cold, wet winters.
Today, the vineyard is dry-farmed. Instead of running irrigation lines, the old vines’ deep root systems reach natural water sources and extract minerals from the soil. Fruit is harvested by hand in small baskets to preserve the integrity of the fruit. The sunny side of the vines is harvested a few days earlier than the shady side to attain perfect, consistent maturity. The attention to detail is immense. The reward is wine with complex flavour that is deeply connected to the soil.
First released in 1996, the 2014 Napanook brings together 88% Cabernet, 9% Petit Verdot, and 3% Cabernet Franc, carefully balanced for lively fruit and bold character. It is youthful and exuberant, produced with Dominus’s skillful, minimal intervention approach, but meant to be enjoyed when a more casual wine is called for. It charges ahead with power, energy, and tension, displaying notes of violet, cocoa, and deep red fruit that linger on a velvety finish. You can expect Napanook to age well for over a decade. 2,200 cases produced.
“Christian Moueix showing us how it’s done; exquisite and smooth with elegance and finesse; structured yet smooth and lush; lovely now, but should last 30 years.”
98 points, Anthony Dias Blue, April 2018
“Gorgeous aromas of sweet tobacco, iodine and oysters. Blackcurrants, too. Subtle. Medium to full body, elegant and refined tannins, and yet there’s also delicious, understated complexity. Savoury. A joy to drink now, but this will improve with age.”
95 points, JamesSuckling.com, Jan 2017
“From the producer’s Yountville estate, this blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc offers thyme, stone and black pepper flavors within a leathery texture. Concentrated and structured, it further shines with black currant and tobacco notes that give it a distinct herbal edge.”
94 points + Editor’s Choice, Wine Enthusiast, Dec 2017
“The 2014 Napanook is, once again, a very serious wine. Dark, powerful and brooding, the 2014 possesses remarkable intensity packed into its mid-weight frame. Smoke, scorched earth, tobacco, graphite, savoury herbs and menthol add to an impression of gravitas. The 2014 doesn’t quite have the depth or power of the 2013, but it leans in that direction. I would give it a few years in bottle to settle down. This is an impressive showing.”
93 points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, Dec 2016
“The 2014s, where the production of Napanook was only 2,200 cases and Dominus slightly more than the 2015 at 4,000 cases, was another early harvest, although somewhat later than 2015. The 2014 Napanook is a blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc and 9% Petit Verdot, showing notes of loamy earth, Christmas fruitcake, black cherry and blackcurrant fruit and underbrush in a supple, fragrant and lush heady style. It is another successful wine that should drink beautifully young and age nicely for up to 20 years.”
92 points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Oct 2016