A French wine outpost in California’s Napa Valley

I pay attention to an email from Jim Barrasso, the energetic owner of Firefly Grill and Wine Bar in Encinitas.  Barrasso has a keen sense of wine bargains and occasionally will share this good fortune with his customers.

Recently, he flashed: “I have been offered a great buy on a limited number of six packs of one of the most iconic and collectable wines from NapaValley, the 2007 Dominus Estate.”

Dominus is owned by the legendary right bank Bordeaux winery, Chateau Petrus and its Dominus 2007 scored 98 points from critic Robert Parker. Barrasso was offering a 30 percent discount.

I was there in a flash.  Parker proclaimed, “The 2007 Dominus, the quintessential model of haute couture, is pure elegance exhibiting a seamless integration of wood, tannin, alcohol and acidity, a complex bouquet of black current and plum fruit plus a notion of licorice.

The 2007 should drink well for 25 to 30 years.”

In 1982, while president of the leading French Bordeaux Right Bank House of Jean-Pierre Moueix, that included the world-renowned ChateauPetrus, Christian Moueix (pronounced MOE-EX) saw the future in Napa Valley and purchased the Napanook Vineyard in Yountville.

He adapted his French technical approach to California conditions with dry farming, as both an ecological measure and a means to produce grapes of the finest quality.

He later acquired the Schmidt Ranch in Oakville, Calif. in 2008.

In a recent statement summing up his mission for Dominus wines, Moueix said, “We combine centuries-old traditions of grape growing and wine making, with innovative practices to transform the highest quality grapes into fine wines with a great potential for aging.”

The 2007 Dominus Estate  ($150) is a blend of 94 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 3 percent Cab Franc, and 3 percent Petit Verdot.

This is easily the top vintage in memory with complexity and a delicious texture, which can only get better as the years go by — if you can wait any longer than seven years.

The current vintage is 2011 ($139).

Annual production is up to 12,000 cases, which includes both Dominus and Napanook wines.

In 2011, it was a very difficult year for Napa Valley with huge rainfall at harvest time, persistent fog and meager yields.  Vineyards had to be strict in their selection of grapes.

When buying 2011, be site specific like Dominus and you will do fine.

The 2012 wines, as we have reported several times, will be spectacular.  See more at                                   dominusestate.com.

Firefly Parties with Baker &Olive/Powell Mt.

A full house brought a party atmosphere to Jim Barrossa’s latest event as his Firefly Encinitas lit it up with Baker & Olive and Powell Mt. of Paso Robles.  Bill Powell of Powell Mt. poured Viognier, a “Summit” blend, Cabernet and “Pinnacles” blend with the collaboration of Firefly’s creative cuisine, led by a Grilled Oyster Escabeche and a drum-roll main course of Espresso Balsamic Marinated Beef Rib Eye.  The herb de Provence infused extra virgin olive oil fried crique potatoes were a satisfying Baker & Olive artistic stroke.

Check out more special events to come at fireflygrillandwinebar.com.

Wine Bytes

Meritage Wine Market in Encinitas is presenting an Oyster Festival April 26 from 2 to 5 p.m.  $50; with Amitie Wines from Burgundy, France.  This is an “all you can eat” Oysterfest with raw bar and Rockefeller on the grill. RSVP at (760) 479-2500.

Northern Italian Wine Seminar and Tasting at Island Prime on Harbor Island San Diego, April 26 from noon to 2 p.m. Cost is $40.  Details at (619) 236-1299.

Wine Dinner with Batasiolo Wines at Solare in Pt. Loma, April 29 from 6:45 to 9:30 p.m.  Great Barolos, Barbarescos and many more with a gourmet five-course Italian dinner.  $75.  RSVP at (619) 270-9670.

It’s a NIGHT AT THE MISSION, San Luis Rey in Oceanside for a Grand Tasting Affair, May 10.  Doors open at 5 p.m., VIP event at 4:30 p.m.  Wine, beer, food tasting, silent auction and food showcase; wines include premium names from the Jackson Family of Sonoma, Hartford Family Wines and Freemark Abbey. Cost is $40 in advance, $50 at the door; 21 and up.  All proceeds to the Old Mission Montessori School.  Details and tickets at (760) 576-4161.

 Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator.  His columns can be viewed atwww.tasteofwinetv.com.  He is one of the top wine commentators on the web.  Reach him at mangiompc@aol.com. 



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