Duckhorn Vineyards produces a roster of top-tier Napa Valley wines, but its roots are anchored deep in Merlot. When the winery was established in the late 1970’s, many Napa Valley properties were using Merlot as a component in blends. A great fan of Merlot since traveling through St. Emilion and Pomerol, Dan Duckhorn felt that this elegant varietal was under-appreciated in North America: The softness, the elegance, the texture. It was Duckhorn who pursued Merlot’s potential as a stand-alone varietal in California.
In 2014, the final blend combines 88% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petit Verdot, and 2% Cabernet Franc aged 16 months in French oak (40% new). The growing season delivered the winery’s third exceptional vintage in a row, yielding wines with ideal concentration, elegant tannins, and lovely varietal flavours. Though the winter was one of the driest on record, heavy rains from February through March provided the vines with much-needed moisture at just the right time. A warm spring triggered early budbreak and perfect weather through the summer allowed the grapes to achieve ideal ripeness with pure, focused flavours and resolved tannins. Harvest was ideal, with fruit picked solely on flavour without threatening weather events to rush decisions.
This gorgeous wine is one for the hedonists. The combination of grace and structure make this a classic expression of Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot. On the palate, it is lush and supple, with bright acidity and velvety tannins supporting layers of raspberry and black cherry, as well as hints of coffee and chocolate that carry through on the long finish. It is a Merlot that promises great aging potential.
The 2014 is a recent release that has yet to be reviewed.