Boston Wine Expo 2003
Dominus Vertical: 1994 & 1995

Sometimes a seminar ends up being just about everything you could possibly want out of a wine discussion. The Dominus Vertical, tasting wines from 1994 through 1999, was run by Edouard Moueix, grandson of the founder of the winery. He was knowledgeable, entertaining, charming, and the wines he was tasting with us were superb. We were in wine heaven.

Preparing for the sold-out crowd

Edouard explained that in the world of Bordeaux, his family is fairly new. He is only the third generation, where he knows of winemakers his age that are the 14th generation in their family. When his family looked to working with land in California, they were drawn to the land of Napanook vineyard. This vineyard had been planted since the 1800s, and luckily was totally planted with phylloxera-resistant vines. They did not lose any vines when that louse took over much of California.

They first started working on the land in 1982, and in 1984 they released their first vintage. In 1996 they added on a vintage of drink-young wine. Not every year sees a wine, however, As he explained, "If there is a wine we do not appreciate, we do not produce it." 1993 was such a year, with bad weather causing a bad vintage.

The winemakers very much respect what Mother Nature has given them and work to bring out the best that fruit has to offer without trying to alter it. "We do not produce wine in the cellar," added Edouard. "We produce wine in the vineyards." For this reason, he feels Dominus has the reputation of being a Bordeaux-style, Napa wine.

The Bottles of Dominus


The 1994 vintage is one of the best of recent vintages, along with the 1991. There was a long growing season, which allowed the fruit to mature slowly. Edouard described this as an "elegant fruit attack - not typical of california." The nice acidity and tannins would go well with food. Smiling, Edouard pointed out, "we do not produce wine for tastings - we produce wine for food." There was a good amount of merlot in this blend, because the long growing season gave the merlot a rich complexity.

There was only a little bit of new oak used. In general the winery is against overuse of oak - not only do they feel it destroys the natural flavors of the wine, but it destroys forests as well! Edouard added, "the beauty of the blend is to adapt to the climate, adapt to what nature gives us."


This year began poorly, with wet and cold weather. The winemakers cautiously watched the temperatures, hoping things would evolve well. Luckily, there was a nice summer. Edouard explained that the winery, as was traditional in California in earlier years, relies on dry farming. They feel that, like human beings, a wine that is not stressed gets lazy. A vine that has to deal with stress tends to stay on top of things and produce its best.

When wineries irrigate, they plant closely so the vines are stressed by the competition. Since Dominus uses dry farming, they can use wider spacing. They look towards a "respect of the vineyard and nature."

The wine is not as big or complex as the 94, but has a good balance, with nice red fruit flavors. Edouard added, "If we're talkinga bout pleasure, this is the wine to drink right now." Even so, they double decanted this and every other bottle before pouring, to give it every opportunity to further open up.

Main Page for Boston Expo 2003
First Stop - Fratelli Castino Gavi
Next, the Verdicchio
The Lugana of Fratelli Fraccoroli
The Verdicchios of Verdoni
Dominus Vertical: 1994 & 1995
Dominus Vertical: 1996 & 1997
Dominus Vertical: 1998 & 1999
Ending with Prosecco

All content on the WineIntro website is personally written by author and wine enthusiast Lisa Shea. WineIntro explores the delicious variety and beautiful history which makes up our world of wine! Lisa loves supporting local wineries and encouraging people to drink whatever they like. We all have different taste buds, and that makes our world wonderful. Always drink responsibly.