Chateau La Dominique St. Emilion Bordeaux Wine, Complete Guide
Chateau La Dominique History, Overview
Chateau La Dominique has a long history in the region that dates back to the 1700’s. The estate takes its name from an island in the Caribbean that was where the original owner of the property earned his fortune, Dominique.
Owned by the Fayat family since 1969, when they purchased the estate from the de Bailliencourt family, who counted the vineyards among their holdings since 1933. The de Bailliencourt family still own Chateau Gazin in Pomerol. Chateau La Dominique has experienced numerous changes over the previous two decades since it was obtained by Clement Fayat.
Clement Fayat is an interesting character who started out as a bricklayer before founding one of the largest construction companies in the world.
It took a few years until Clement Fayat began to invest in the vineyards and wine making at the property. Initially new drainage systems were placed in the vineyards, and a new wine cellar was built. The estate also purchased additional land, increasing the size of the vineyards.
Things appear to be getting better and better at La Dominique, especially since Jean-Luc Thunevin came aboard in 2007 to consult. Clement Fayat, the owner of La Dominique also counts among his holdings, Chateau Fayat in Pomerol and Clement Pichon in the Haut Medoc appellation.
The Fayat family also recently purchased Vieux Fortin in St. Emilion. The 5 hectare vineyard is located adjacent to La Dominique. Rumors and common sense says, they are trying to have those vines incorporated into the classified hectares at La Dominique.
Chateau La Dominique Vineyards, Terroir, Grapes, Winemaking
The 29 hectare vineyard of Chateau La Dominique is planted to 81% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon. It is the goal of the estate to increase the portion of Cabernet Franc in the vineyards until they reach 20% of their total plantings.
In all, the vineyard consists of 23 planted hectares, of which 18 are classified as Grand Cru Classe. The terroir is deep gravel over clay with some sand in the soil. This is similar in some parts as to what you find at their neighbor, Chateau Cheval Blanc, which in part, accounts for the refined style of wine at both properties.
In fact, as you might expect, the best parcels in the La Dominique vineyard are located next to Cheval Blanc, and quite close to the Pomerol border.
However, there are also patches of deep clay soil at La Dominique. The vine density ranges between 7,000 and 9,000 vines per hectare. As I mentioned, La Dominique has good neighbors.
Chateau La Dominique is situated not far from Chateau Cheval Blanc and Chateau Figeac in Saint Emilion, as well as La Conseillante and LEvangile in Pomerol. As you can see from just looking at their neighbors, it is easy to note that Chateau La Dominique is located close to the border of Pomerol, Saint Emilion, which explains in part, the natural elegance and freshness in their wine.
The oldest part of the vineyard was planted in 1967. Starting in 2006, the estate began a massal selection program for the planting for their Cabernet Franc.
The estate is experimenting with biodynamic farming. 5 hectares of the vineyard are now farmed using biodynamic farming techniques. The number of hectares biodynamically farmed is expected to increase in time. It is the goal of the estate to increase the percentage of Cabernet Franc in the vineyards over time.
In 2013, Chateau La Dominique finished their two year, complete renovation of the entire estate including the chateau, cellars, wine making facilities, grape reception area and a larger vat house designed by the noted architect, Jean Nouvel.
The building was designed to resemble an inverted mirror making it in some ways, look like a futuristic ship, at least according to the chateau.
The bright red, wine colored walls double as a work of art that reflects the vineyard and terror of Chateau La Dominique. The bright, wine colored building can be seen from quite a distance, which has caused some issues with some of their neighbors.
Everything at La Dominique is intended to be the most up to date, modern technology available. This includes isolated, stainless steel tanks with double thermo-controlled skins and variable levels of capacity.
This will allow for very precise vinification on a parcel by parcel basis. The wine will only travel by gravity. There will also be a cold room and La Dominique will continue using optical sorters as well, but as of now, they are still in an experimental capacity.
At Chateau La Dominique, fermentation takes place in 22, 73 hectoliter, thermo-regulated, stainless steel steel vats with a 25-35 day maceration.
Malolactic fermentation takes place in a combination of new oak barrels and vat. The wine is aged on its lees for five to six months with the lees stirred during the first month. Chateau La Dominique is aged in 50% to 70% new oak for about 18 months.
The best vintages of Chateau La Dominique are: 2016, 2015, 2012, 2010, 2009, 2005, 2000, 1990, 1989 and 1982. I have not tasted very old wines from the estate, but it’s possible that with proper storage, they could be quite good.
As you can see, Chateau La Dominique is spending the money needed to ramp up the quality of their wines to the highest level possible. Chateau La Dominique is also increasing their wine tourism activities.
In 2014, they opened a restaurant on the property, La Terrasse Rouge, that is managed by Brasserie Bordelais, located in the city of Bordeaux. The stairway to the roof top restaurant is a stunning work of art with its reflecting red walls and open sky motif.
Character and Style of Chateau La Dominique
Chateau La Dominique is not a powerful, concentrated wine. It’s an elegantly styled Saint Emilion with medium/full body, silky tannins and offers a complex aromatic profile that ages well.
The 1989 and 1990 are still drinking great today, but for close to 20 years, this Right Bank property seemed to languish. Starting with the 2009 vintage, it’s easy to see and taste the resurgence in quality.
When to Drink Chateau La Dominique, Anticipated Maturity, Decanting Time
Chateau La Dominique is much better with at least 9-12 years of aging in good vintages. Young vintages can be decanted for 1-2 hours, or more.
This allows the wine to soften and open its perfume. Older vintages might need very little decanting, just enough to remove the sediment. Chateau La Dominique offers its best drinking and should reach peak maturity between 10-28 years of age after the vintage.
Serving Chateau La Dominique with Wine and Food Pairings
Chateau La Dominique is best served at 15.5 degrees Celsius, 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The cool, almost cellar temperature gives the wine more freshness and lift.
Chateau La Dominique is best paired with all types of classic meat dishes, veal, pork, beef, lamb, duck, game, roast chicken, roasted, braised and grilled dishes. Chateau La Dominique is also good when matched with Asian dishes, rich fish courses like tuna, salmon,mushrooms and pasta.