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 2015 Napanook brings together 93% Cabernet, 4% 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. 3,800 cases produced.
“This is fantastic on the nose with blackberries and forest flowers. Very aromatic. Full body with soft, well-integrated and medium-grained tannins. Undertones of black olives. Love the hints of sandalwood. Drink or hold.”
96 points, JamesSuckling.com, May 2018
“Brought up in 20% new barrels, the 2015 Napanook is an awesome wine in its own right, offering classic cassis, tobacco, leafy herbs, and violets notes, with an almost Bordeaux-like earthiness. Full-bodied, incredibly pure and seamless on the palate as well as impeccably balanced, it’s more than worth your time and money.”
94 points, JebDunnuck.com, Feb 2019
“Bottled in July 2017, Dominus’ more approachable, less tannic sister wine, Napanook, is a blend this year of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc. Deep garnet-purple coloured, the 2015 Napanook Proprietary Red Wine is redolent of crème de cassis, potpourri, plum preserves and violets with hints of dark chocolate, menthol, licorice and charcoal. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is densely packed with black fruit preserves and earthy layers, supported by firm, ripe, fine-grained tannins and finishing with great length.“
93+ points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Oct 2017