Duckhorn Vineyards 2018 Napa Valley Merlot

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Tasting notes
Rich in aroma, a luxurious taste with a long finish. Excellent with rich stews, roasted root vegetables and hard cheeses.

Why we recommend this wine
When we visited California a while back (see our trip notes here) we gave their Merlots a good bash to see if we agreed with The Sideways movie character’s loathing of Merlot. We liked them and this is a great example.

The wine
This highly rated (90+ points) classic Californian Merlot comprising 82% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon 1.4% Cabernet Franc, 0.4% Petit Verdot, 0.2% Malbec, the 2018 was aged 15 months in 100% French oak, 40% new.

The wine estate
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.
Now owned by a private equity company, San Francisco-based TSG Consumer Partners who specialize in luxury brands including winemakers. They also own Calera, another iconic Californian winemaker, among others.

Food and wine
With rich fruity flavours it needs foods that are also rich and flavoursome, such as, boeuf bourguignon made with beef rib or chicken, chick peas and chorizo picante stew. Also see our guide to pairing food and wine here.

Did you know?
Sideways, an iconic wine movie but dubbed a romantic comedy, is about the adventures of a middle-aged Miles, a budding writer and wine enthusiast while his friend Jack is a soon-to-be married actor. They take a road trip through Californian wine country in order to celebrate Jack’s bachelor party. Miles has a big hatred of Merlot and Jack just wants a last fling. Needless to say it all goes wrong.