2016 Carpe Diem Napa Valley Cabernet



Famed French Winemaker Christian Moueix once landed himself in a quandary.

Owning one of the most expensive pieces of land in Bordeaux (not for sale) and producing one of the most expensive wines in Bordeaux – Petrus (for sale to the highest bidder) he decided to branch out, and much like Eddie Murphy, Come to America.

That was way back in the 1980s, and he partnered with the lovely Robin Lale, née Daniels, who at the time owned the last remaining parcel of land from the Daniels family’s century-long history of making Napa’s greatest wines. It was an esteemed partnership and one Christian took very seriously. So seriously that he started sleeping in the vineyard in order to “get to know” the terroir. That is, until he was told snakes were a serious issue.

The quandary? What to call the magnificent resulting wine. It took him several vintages, but he eventually decided upon the Latin word for “Lord of the Estate” – Dominus. A humble beginning, indeed!

Now clearly, while I am poking fun at this Frenchman in America, Dominus has become one of the most respected Napa Cabernets in the land. If you like wine ratings, Dominus has received 15 years above 96 points, with the last two being perfect 100s.

So what of the wine? Well, almost every good Bordeaux winery makes a main wine that is built to be aged and you probably shouldn’t touch for about 10 years. They also then make a “Second” wine that is more forward with the idea that you can drink it young and receive much pleasure. Here is Christian Moueix’s Carpe Diem – seize the day – Napa Cabernet that has been “vinified under the struct supervision of Christian Moueix’s winemaking team in Yountville” and since he owns no other land or wineries in Yountville, one most conclude this is made at and by Dominus.

Is it the $350 Dominus? No, not quite. But I’ll tell you, it’s darn impressive Napa Cabernet that follows in the path of “complexity and balance, demonstrating the exceptional terroir; structure, seamless and perfectly integrated.” And indeed, it is:

The 2016 vintage is 93% Cabernet Sauvignon with 7% Petit Verdot and boasts a beautiful perfume of classic Yountville Cabernet: blackberries, black cherries underscored by red and black currants, and pencil lead. The palate is mouth coating and delivers a full-bodied mouthfeel yet if you know Christian Moueix’s style, it also keeps its wonderful elegance. Here is a wine that has silky soft fruit character, with a perfect harmony of tannins and acidity. In other words, it’s a great summer drinking Cabernet – it’s lighter on its feet than most, keeping fresh and vibrant, perfect as an afternoon cocktail and at the same time perfect for the table. It’s ready to drink now but certainly will last a decade in your cellar.

One commentator noted of the 2016 Dominus – “if I could give it more than 100 points, I would.” Could this wine stand up to the Moueix and Dominus pedigree? For under $20, why not take a chance and find out?

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