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 82% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1.4% Cabernet Franc, 0.4% Petit Verdot and 0.2% Malbec aged 15 months in French oak (40% new). For both red and white grapes, 2018 offered near picture-perfect growing conditions, with mild spring and summer weather, and no significant heat events. The conditions were ideal for both our Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, which show beautiful tropical notes and ripe flavors at low sugars. While our Chardonnay harvest began about three weeks later than normal, the fruit arrived at the winery in pristine condition, producing dynamic and complex wines. The excellent growing conditions naturally resulted in a slightly larger than average crop for our red Bordeaux varieties, with fully lignified seeds at low sugars levels. With temperate weather throughout fall, we were able to pick each block at optimal ripeness, yielding exceptionally juicy and polished red wines, with plush, well-rounded tannins, and lovely overall structure.