Founded by Dan and Margaret Duckhorn in 1976, Duckhorn Vineyards has spent a quarter of a century establishing itself as one of North America’s finest producers of Bordeaux varietal wines. Fundamental to its identity was the early decision to focus on the production of Merlot. Though many Napa Valley wineries were using Merlot as a blending grape in the late seventies, few were exploring the potential of this varietal as a stand-alone wine. A devotee of Merlot since experiencing the wines of Pomerol, Dan Duckhorn felt that this elegant varietal was under appreciated in North America and loved its “softness and seductiveness”. The quality of Duckhorn Vineyards’ wines has always been based on a commitment to selecting the finest fruit. Whether carefully sourcing grapes from top sites in the Napa Valley or committing itself to estate vineyards, the winery was built on the belief that great wines begin in the vineyard. The winery’s seven estate vineyards are located in alluvial fans of the Napa Valley and on the coveted slopes of Howell Mountain, all with distinctly different micro-climates. As a result, winemaker Bill Nancarrow has many different vineyard blocks to choose from, each offering markedly different flavour profiles. By approaching each vineyard block individually he is able to harvest when the flavours have reached their peak and the tannins are at their softest. Grapes are hand-picked and hand-sorted prior to crushing, and some vineyard sites are harvested several times, selecting only the ripe fruit with each pass through the vineyard.
As a true mountain-grown Cabernet Sauvignon, there is an unmistakable wildness to this wine—both in its robust structure and in the character of its fruit. Notes of forest floor, wild herbs, dried fruits and coffee support intense bramble fruit flavors, as well as layers of cassis and mulberry. Though the tannins are abundant and a little rustic, they frame the fruit perfectly giving the wine excellent balance.