Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot, Napa Valley 2019

Deep ruby color; cherry, black plum, mocha, earth on the nose; cherry, black plum, blackcurrant, raspberry, fig, licorice, chocolate on the palate.

Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot, Napa Valley 2019

Dry; smooth tannins; balancing acidity (3.63 pH). Aged 15 months in French oak, 40% new, 60% neutral. Rich and fleshy with black fruit tang on the mid-palate. Full body. Blend of 90% merlot, 8% cabernet sauvignon, 1% cabernet franc, 1% petit verdot. Merlot production has been a Duckhorn specialty from the beginning, and this helps maintain their lofty place in the Napa merlot firmament. 14.5% ABV

The grapes came from Duckhorn estate vineyards, but also from independent growers in Napa—thus the Napa Valley designation. Duckhorn also produces a number of premier—more expensive—single-vineyard merlots from their estate vineyards.

Duckhorn Vineyards Howell Mountain vineyard

After working at Duckhorn for a decade, Renée Ary became the fourth winemaker in the 41-year history of Duckhorn in 2014. The website notes: “Renée is recognized for making some of the finest wines in the history of Duckhorn Vineyards.” Renée notes: “I am incredibly fortunate to work with some of Napa Valley’s most exceptional grapes. There is no recipe or formula. My job is to let the vineyards speak and convey the soul of the wine.”

Duckhorn winemaker Renée Ary

Dan and Margaret Duckhorn founded Duckhorn Vineyards in 1976. They focused on merlot from the beginning. Today, the seven estate vineyards are located in the Napa Valley and on the slopes of Howell Mountain and produce a number of varietals in addition to the merlot core.

Dan and Margaret Duckhorn

The company is undergoing change. Dan and Margaret divorced in 2000. Dan was named Winemaker of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle in 2005. GI Partners, a private equity firm, purchased controlling interest in the Duckhorn Wine Company in 2007. In 2016, TSG Consumer Partners bought the brand and its wineries for a price in the range of $600 million according to published reports. Duckhorn’s portfolio includes Duckhorn Vineyards, Paraduxx, Goldeneye, Migration, Decoy, and Canvasback.

Margaret Duckhorn, who put the focus on merlot and was intimately involved in the business even after the sales, passed in 2022. Duckorn president and CEO: “Margaret was an icon who changed the face of American wine. She was kind, gracious, collaborative and charitable. Margaret always led by example, and instilled this remarkable sense of camaraderie, which made her a talented leader with a gift for empowering people and building consensus. She was deeply loved and universally respected.”

Duckhorn winery and vineyard

Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot, Napa Valley 2019 smooth celebration of dark fruits framed by well-done oak. Plush with tart blackcurrant notes. Savory elements and herbal traces add character and depth. This is an entry-level bottle—for Duckhorn. Impressive complexity and depth—plus food-friendly acidity. Pair with grilled or roast beef; filet mignon; grilled lamb; grilled or roasted chicken; roast pork and pork loin. Cheese—merlot pairs with many kinds of cheese; parmesan, muenster, brie, colby, blue cheese, cheddar, gorgonzola. $45-55

Duckhorn Vineyards website

Duckhorn Vineyards Estate House tasting facility
Harvest at Duckhorn in late 1970s