2019 Duckhorn Vineyards Three Palms Vineyard Merlot
Duckhorn’s name is synonymous with Merlot, and its evolution within the landscape of Napa Valley and the global market. Dan Duckhorn founded the winery in 1976 with a passion for a varietal that was relatively obscure in Napa Valley. Influenced by the French’s direction in growing Bordeaux varietals, Duckhorn’s conviction led him to invest in the cultivation of Merlot in a region accustomed to Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. His credentials in viticulture led him to recognize Napa’s soil as ideally suited for Merlot. He crafted a style that became the benchmark for others and earned him the distinguished title of “Mr. Merlot.” Three Palms Vineyard was recognized as the first Merlot vineyard in North America. Its first release was in 1978 with a modest 800 case production. Dan’s successor is Renee Ary, who has been the director of winemaking since 2014.
The blend of the 2019 Three Palms Merlot is 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Franc. It was aged in 100% French Oak with 20% of new barrels. This is always one of the more exotic bottlings from Duckhorn Vineyards. The juicy Merlot shines through with an abundance of red currant preserves and chocolate covered cherries cherries accented with a potpourri of spices and a touch of sweet oak. The mid-palate is refined and silky as the fruit speaks for itself. The complex and caressing style of this wine makes you want to pay more attention to well-crafted Merlot.
By W Peter Hoyne