By Simone Luca Gagliardi
Jean-Pierre Moueix Wines from Napa Valley
During the visit of Edouard Moueix, (Deputy General Manager of J-P Moeuix Wines), I was privileged enough to be involved in a master class session where invitees were invited to taste and rate his wines from Napa valley. Such iconic wines of course deserved an iconic setting, and where better than at the iconic Burj Al Arab.
The grape comes from the Napanook Vineyard and used to be sold prior to the 2012 vintage. Now the Moueix family is making a wine that could embody the greatness of the Napanook while being both accessible and enjoyable in its youth.
This first vintage is made of 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and comes from the bottom part of the vineyard where the soil is more clay based.
The 2012 vintage was born out of a temperate year, with mild and wet spring, mild summer and mild harvesting time.
It’s an easy drinking Cabernet, with a bright ruby color, aromas of raspberries and black fruits. On the palate it is round, has good tannic density, great fruitiness and good acidity. Overall it reminds the drinker of a wine very French in a way, where the fruit and vintage are very well represented.
In 2008 the Moueix Family bought this 16-hectare vineyard situated in Oakville, which was once part of the famed Charles Hopper Ranch and is outstanding for the production of wine. The soil is composed of deep, gravelly clay loam.
2012 is the first vintage produced, and the base of the Cabernet Sauvignon is blended with Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
The wine shows elegance and refined fruit, with plenty of tannins which are subtle to taste as they are very well integrated into the overall structure.
This vineyard dates back to the first planted vineyard in Napa Valley in 1838 by George Yount, which gave the name to the town of Yountville. The soil is gravelly and clay loam, and the 2010 vintage saw a wet spring, mild summer and hot, dry harvesting time. The wine show lots of concentration, tannins are very centered and thanks to its 14.5 percent alcohol percentage, it adds silkiness to the overall structure. It’s a wine that is lively, with spicy and earthy notes. On the palate it has vigorous fruit characteristics of plum and blackberries, with notes of mocha, licorice, and sweet cherries. It is not the usual vintage of Napanook as its slightly more potent and concentrated. Being a Napanook is, it made to be consumed young with an early maturing characteristic. Described as the second wine of Dominus, in my view, it’s a wine that has its own identity and purpose.
The estate is based in the same original vineyard of the Napanook and it’s the flagship of the Moueix family venture in Napa.
Christian Moueix acquired the estate in 1982 in partnership with the daughters of legendary owners of Inglenook, John Daniel jnr.
In 1995, Christian bought the shares of the two daughters and in 1996 produced the second wine of Dominus calling it Napanook.
The whole estate uses the dry farming technique, plowing the soil in order to stress the vines at the maximum. The vineyard has great diversity in the soil, having volcanic soil on the top layer, with a loamy part in the middle. The result is a wine with an outstanding complexity and balance, in other words, a Napa Terroir wine with a Bordeaux spirit.
It’s a blend of 93 percent of Cabernet Sauvignon, with 5 percent of Petit Verdot and a 2 percent of Cabernet Franc. The wine is powerful, the fruit is prevalent on the nose, sweet dark fruit over floral notes. On the palate it has an outstanding fruit clarity with dark chocolate and plenty of herbs and flower notes. The level of the tannins is superior to any other vintage produced according to Edouard, however in this young stage it looks quite approachable. Edouard explains to us that in the very youthful age the tannins of Dominus are always approachable and charming before it goes into the “damn phase” period where it is unapproachable and tight. After this phase, the wine seems to concentrate again and starts to the development through the years.
This ‘damn phase” can be noticed in this vintage, where the tannins look tighter than the 2012 vintage. The nose is still full of raspberries, plums with tertiary aromas of tobacco and mocha. On the palate it is almost a rustic approach, with plenty of blackberries, black currant, anise, and spices.
The tannin is firm and undoubtedly it needs another 4-5 years before opening it up and showing all its complexity in a very well balance structure.