Paleo & Primal Food, Wine, Travel & Living

Napa Day Two: Duckhorn Vineyards. I WILL drink Merlot!

Back to Napa, or more specifically, the Silverado Trail and a winery called Duckhorn Vineyards. They specialize in guess what? Bordeaux varietals! My favorite. Sometimes I like to just be safe with wine and choose the ones I know I am already going to like love.

This particular winery was founded in 1976 by Dan and Margaret Duckhorn and since 2007, Bill Nancarrow has been the executive winemaker.

In the early 1990s, Duckhorn purchased vineyard properties in certain Napa Valley areas so they could consistently obtain at least 70 percent of their grapes from the land they bought. The Napa Valley Estate Vineyard portfolio is now comprised of seven different properties, and the grapes that emerge from them are wonderfully different as a result of variations of viticultural factors such as soil, microclimate, and slight elevation changes.

Marlee’s Vineyard was the first estate planted by Duckhorn in 1976 and is the home vineyard. The others are Patzimaro Vineyard (15 acres), Monitor Ledge Vineyard (43 acres), Rector Creek (39 acres), Candlestick Ridge (28 acres), Stout (36 acres), and Cork Tree (20 acres).

Duckhorn produces other labels which include Paraduxx, Goldeneye, Migration, and Decoy. Each of these have developed their own branding and identity, though they are clearly within the Duckhorn family.

When you visit, you can schedule ahead of time online, and choose your own adventure with a Limited Tasting or a Portfolio Tasting. There’s also a Tour and Tasting and a Food for Thought tasting available here.

We started our tour of the Duckhorn portfolio in the lobby with a 2010 Sauvignon Blanc (75% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Sémillon). Then we were led to a heated outdoor patio with a view of the backyard and all the colors of fall as you can see below:

Not a bad place to sit while drinking some of the best 
wine in the country with a handsome guy. 🙂
Next we tasted the 2008 Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot (86% Merlot, 9.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3.5% Petit Verdot, and 1% Cabernet Franc). Our host for the tasting was the very knowledgeable Jim Shook.

Next it was this little show-stealer, the 2008 Three Palms Merlot (93% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon 2% Petit Verdot). It’s quite possibly one of the best merlots I have ever tried. If you can get your hands on some of it, do it. Here’s the link to buy it.

Paraduxx has always been a favorite wine of mine, and was also one of the wines we were able to try. This wine is made by David Marchesi, and comprised of 68% Zinfandel, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, and 1% Cabernet Franc. Each vintage, Paraduxx features a label with a different artist’s signature medium and style interpreted through a pair of ducks. The 2008 label was an acrylic painting done by Tiburon artist Barbara Banthien.
Tasting three different Cabs… 🙂

We walked away with the 2005 Three Palms Merlot and the 2008 Three Palms Merlot as well as the 2008 Merlot, a 2008 Cabernet and a 2007 Paraduxx.

The BF says the Duckhorn Three Palms is “hands down, the best Merlot I’ve ever tasted”. Hmmm, high praise from someone who has been drinking wine for over four times longer than I have. Well played, Duckhorn, well played. 😉

You can visit Duckhorn Vineyards from Monday–Sunday from 10:00am-5:00pm. They have a Facebook page here and you can follow them on twitter here. For more information, you can also call the winery at (707) 963-7108.

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