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 2017, the final blend combines 80% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2.5% Cabernet Franc, 1 % Petit Verdot and 0.5% Malbec aged 15 months in French oak (40% new). The 2017 growing season began with abundant winter rains, followed by a warm, dry spring that led to a perfectly timed budbreak. In addition to replenishing the water table, the early season rains produced robust canopies, which provided invaluable shade during a week-long heat event that kicked harvest into gear during the last week of August. This was followed by a much needed cool-down that allowed the vines to recuperate, while also giving the team extra hangtime for flavour development and tannin resolution. They harvested throughout September and into early October, with the grapes showing lovely ripeness and quality, yielding plush, polished and wonderfully complex wines.
A classic expression of Napa Valley Merlot, this wine offers alluring aromas of lush cherry, raspberry, cocoa and freshly baked pie crust. The cherry and raspberry notes are echoed on the silky palate, where fine-grained tannins and flavours of ripe plum, blueberry, licorice and subtle baking spice draw the wine to a long, elegant finish.
“A nicely crafted 2017 red with berries, plums and hints of dark chocolate on the nose and palate. Medium body, creamy tannins and a savoury finish. Pretty fruit at the end. Drink or hold.”
92 points, JamesSuckling.com, Feb 2020