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The Duckhorn name is synonymous with Merlot due to Dan Duckhorn’s passion for the classic Bordeaux varietal, which he initially planted in the Napa Valley in 1978. His love for Merlot started after a trip to Bordeaux, France, and he vowed to grow it just as beautifully in Napa Valley, improving its reputation in the New World.

Duckhorn’s Napa Valley Merlot is a blend of some of the winery’s most iconic vineyards, including the Napa side of Carneros fruit chosen for its proximity to the cooling effects of the Pacific Ocean, which play a vital role in contributing brightness to this wine. The 2019 vintage began with abundant rainfall, followed by a long, warm summer with foggy mornings and the absence of significant heat spikes helping to preserve freshness, vibrance, depth of color, and overall structure. This vintage ranks among their best yet for their beloved Napa Valley Merlot. Our tasting panel members were all commenting on how it was the best Duckhorn Napa Merlot in recent memory, and possibly ever.

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Duckhorn made their first Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon in 1978 and has only missed one vintage in over 40 years. Their Cabernet consistently delivers a lush, rich, eclectic taste of Napa because it’s a blend of many of their estate properties, including Rector Creek in Yountville, Monitor Ledge in Calistoga, Stout on Howell Mountain, and even their historic Three Palms Vineyard.

The 2019 vintage saw an ideal summer without any significant heatwaves, ensuring an even ripening of the grapes and more complex flavor development. The blend consists of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot aged 16 months in 100% French oak (50% new and 50% neutral), creating a soulful balance between the fruit and the oak.

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Since its first bottling in 1978, Duckhorn Three Palms Vineyard Merlot set the gold standard for New World Merlot, reaching the pinnacle in 2017 by ranking #1 on the Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list, the second-ever domestic Merlot to achieve that status. Located in Northern Napa Valley, Three Palms Vineyard sits at the exact location where warm temperatures and rocky, volcanic soils force the vine’s roots deep into the ground in search of nutrients, boosting the minerality and depth of flavors.

The growing conditions in 2018 were optimal, with a mild spring and summer followed by a temperate fall allowing the grapes an extended hang-time, achieving the perfect ripeness of fruit and tannin components. Duckhorn’s tradition of excellence comes full circle in this powerful yet elegant, full-bodied Merlot with a long, ethereal finish that’ll keep you wanting more and more.

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Inspired by Bordeaux and a foundational focus of Duckhorn Winery since 1978, Merlot’s mesmeric identity and profound elegance were recognized by Dan Duckhorn as underappreciated in North America, and he set out to fix it. Having unwavering consistency and exemplary varietal character, Duckhorn dominates California Merlot. The 2018 release is a consummate example of the winery’s cumulative growth over the past four decades, and at $45, this deserves a spot on the table.

Duckhorn’s Napa Valley Merlot reflects the diversity of Napa Valley terroir, enriched by Estate Vineyards and other top sites in Carneros, Oak Knoll, Calistoga, and Yountville. A quarter of the blend is harvested from the winery’s Three Palms, Rector Creek, Stout, Monitor Ledge, Patzimaro, and Cork Tree Vineyards, balanced with other renowned sites like Stagecoach, Hyde, and Hudson.

A hallmark of Duckhorn’s Napa Merlot is the inclusion of Cabernet Sauvignon for added depth, structure, and signature black cherry, plum, and spice characteristics. Quality was propelled even further by the 2018 vintage, and after resting for 15 months in barrel, this wine is ready to delight.

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Three Palms is the most distinguished Merlot Vineyard in the New World. It’s the exact location where a combination of large diurnal temperature swings and highly-porous gravely soils combine to produce powerful Merlot berries specific to their site. Dan Duckhorn recognized its vast potential early on and has created a single-vineyard Merlot from it since 1978. The Wine Spectator describes the 2017 release as “Powerful, rich and complex,” which is precisely what you’d expect from Three Palms. This vintage earned 96 points and was featured as the #15 wine globally on their Top 100 list last year.

Duckhorn’s 2017 Three Palms Vineyard Merlot perfectly embodies this hallowed ground’s most revered characteristics; Power, concentrated fruit, intensity, and a profound sense of place.

The 2017 vintage was created from 100% Estate fruit, combining 91% Merlot balanced with Cabernet, Malbec, and Cab Franc. The wine is powerful, driven, focused, and confident. I strongly recommend securing a case of this celebrated California Merlot.

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Duckhorn’s Napa Valley Cabernet is a wine that I look forward to tasting each year because it’s a compilation of many of their Estate properties, including Rector Creek in Yountville, Monitor Ledge in Calistoga, Stout on Howell Mountain and even their iconic Three Palms Vineyard. It’s also the only wine they’ve produced for 40 consecutive vintages, with their first vintage dating to 1978. Their newly released 2017 vintage is a remarkable effort, and if you like Napa Cabs, you should give it a try.

Duckhorn created this offering in a showy, intense style balanced with rich fruits, firm tannins, and remarkable complexity. The blend includes many of the winery’s top Estate Vineyards as well as fruit from some of Napa Valley’s top growers.

The winemaking team produced the 2017 vintage around a core of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, followed by 12% Merlot and completed with a dash of Cab Franc and Petite Verdot. It’s starting to show beautifully now after maturing for 16 months in oak, then a full year developing in the bottle.

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I always look forward to seeing (and tasting)  new wines from Duckhorn, because the company is clearly on an upward path, recently acquiring legendary Pinot producers CALERA and KOSTA BROWNE.  Ergo, my expectations are high for all of their brands, and once again their 2016 Paraduxx surpassed all of my expectations. The 2016 has a rich core of more than 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, and its layered mouthfeel and penetrating, long finish is exhilarating to taste.  The 2016 sets a high bar for what can be achieved at this price point.

In the glass, layers of alluring dark red and blue fruits, crème de cassis, milk chocolate and gorgeous spices bring out an instant smile.  The 2016 nested for 18 months in barrel and now with around a year in the bottle the flavors and aromas are beginning to take flight.  Fans of deep, round, opulent reds will be thrilled with this new release…

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