#MerlotMe Quick Sip: Duckhorn Vineyards 2013 Napa Valley Merlot

Hello Friends,

Thanks to excellent reads like ‘Judgment of Paris’ by George Taber, and the movie Bottle Shock – a fictionalized, Hollywood version of the actual events – many of us are familiar with the historic wine competition held in Paris, France, in the spring of 1976. Wines from two little-known Napa Valley producers triumphed over some of the finest examples from Bordeaux and Burgundy putting California on the wine map. The main grapes at this pivotal blind tasting were Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. These two highly-regarded varieties are the most successful and widely planted grapes in the valley today.

That same year, Dan and Margaret Duckhorn founded Duckhorn Vineyards in St. Helena; a city in Napa County. Inspired after a visit to Bordeaux’s famed Saint-Émilion and Pomerol appellations, where Merlot is the predominant grape, Mr. Duckhorn decided to focus on the variety. He felt Merlot was underappreciated in North America and thought Napa was an excellent place to grow it. At the time, Merlot was more popular in blends than on its own. The winery’s first vintage was in 1978. Nearly four decades later, the name Duckhorn Vineyards is without a doubt synonymous with quality, Napa-grown Merlot. As my social media friend Thomas Riley, author of The Grape Belt, recently said, “The Duckhorns are nothing if not reliable.” Duckhorn produces several Merlots from estate fruit and top sites within Napa Valley. The 2013 Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot is an appellation blend. It is a great summer-to-fall transition wine and an excellent choice for a dinner party; especially if the flavors of autumn are being served. For further information and where you can find this wine, please see my tasting notes below.

 "I liked the softness, the seductiveness, the color, the fact that it went with a lot of different foods; It seemed to me to be a wonderful wine to just enjoy. I became enchanted with Merlot." ~ Dan Duckhorn

Duckhorn Vineyards 2013 Napa Valley Merlot (SRP $54): This Merlot pours a deep ruby color with purple highlights, offering enticing aromas and juicy flavors redolent of purple stone fruit and black cherry interwoven with spice cake, mineral, hints of coffee grounds and anise seed. It is fuller-bodied and round in the mouth, with expansive texture, deep fruit flavors, and ripe tannins – all held together with [adequate] balancing acidity. It shows richness on the medium-long, polished finish. A very satisfying wine that is drinking nicely right now; just pop, pour and savor. Enjoy with tomato-based dishes, rotisserie chicken, autumnal fare and more. Region: Napa Valley, California. Other info: ABV 14.5%, 88% Merlot | 7% Cabernet Sauvignon | 5% Cabernet Franc, 15 months maturation in 100% French oak (25% new), cork enclosure. Click here to find this wine.