The 1994 vintage was the type of year California winemakers would take every time if they could — a long, mild growing season nearly free of extremes of temperature or rainfall. The good conditions resulted in beautiful, ripe, and powerful wines with superb concentration, depth, richness, and balance. Twenty years on, the best are still in their prime.
One of the only minor concerns was during a period of hot weather in early August that caused some uneven clusters at veraison, but the problem was solved by careful crop-thinning to remove them. As harvest approached, beautiful Indian summer conditions settled in, prolonging hang-times and allowing the grapes to achieve fantastic levels of physiological ripeness. A tremendous year of classic, powerful yet balanced wines that have stood the test of time.
Bud break off to a late start, but days were sunny and dry
Snowstorm hit North Coast late in the month, and hail in Napa Valley; no damage, because flowering had not occurred yet
Heavy rains (Carneros and Central Coast)
A two-week period of hot weather at the beginning of August created some uneven coloration during veraison, and growers compensated by thinning fruit to allow only the best grapes to reach maturation
Christian Moueix's origins are in Bordeaux. His family firm in Libourne owns Château Pétrus, and owns, manages or markets dozens of other Châteaux. During his time at UC Davis, however, Moueix fell in love with the Napa Valley. It was to be a lasting love, which flowered into Dominus, his California outpost. Here he makes a decidedly Old World-style red blend from the historic Napanook Vineyard in Yountville. 103 acres are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot, which Moueix combines in suave, complex Bordeaux blends that age gracefully. Make no mistake, these are not jammy California fruit bombs. Instead, Dominus wines showcase notes of leather, loam, tobacco, licorice and fresh herbs. The estate's flagship Proprietary red often contains upwards of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, and can be quite pricey. The Napanook bottling is a more gently priced intro to the house style.