While the movie Sideways rejuvenated the wine world about 7 years ago, there was one mild casualty…Merlot. It suffered a damaging blow that it may never fully recover from in the US. Miles’s drunken and aggressive proclamation that he will not drink any f*&#in’ Merlot was heard around the country and taken to heart. However the sentiment has started to change over the last few years and Americans are beginning to embrace one of the more prolific grapes utilized in almost all the US wine producing regions. Of all the Merlot that is out there, no one does it consistently better vintage after vintage than Duckhorn Vineyards.
While Duckhorn is most recognizable for its Merlot, it’s their Cabernet Sauvignon that has been gaining some stature over the past several vintages, and for good reason. The 2005 Estate Napa Cab was one of my favorite wines from that entire vintage and the 2007 Napa Cab just received 95 points from Wine Enthusiast. Not that professional ratings mean everything… but that is a big freakin’ score! Even more impressive to me was the 2008 vintage I just had the pleasure of sampling. Truly a well rounded and wonderful wine to drink now, or to lay down in your cellar to age for a few years.
Granted, these Duckhorn Cabs and Merlots are not cheap. So if you are looking to enjoy some of their juice on a more affordable level, then the Decoy line of wines may be up your alley. These are a little bit more approachable (meaning they are ready to drink without aging and are typically fruit forward) and are available in Cabernet, Merlot, Zinfandel and the original Decoy Red Blend (my personal favorite). All of these Decoy wines will be around $20 or less and offer tremendous value as they are made in a similar style as Duckhorn’s higher end wines.
For the Pinot lovers, Duckhorn’s Goldeneye Vineyards are producing some of the best Pinots to come out of the Anderson Valley. Goldeneye Pinot comes from four different vineyards and offers premium wines with the quality, accolades and unfortunately the price tag to back it up. And for all the ZinHeads, don’t overlook the Paraduxx Red Blend. This big and spicy Zin based Napa blend has a healthy dose of Cab added and is a cult favorite in certain circles. For a moderately priced Napa red, this wine can hold up to some of the top tier Zins that cost twice the price…and makes for a great steakhouse wine!
Here’s the bottom line: when you have a hankering for some quality CA juice and are looking to spend $20, $100 or somewhere in between, Duckhorn has all the bases covered. Their style is consistent and recognizable throughout their various vineyards and vintages, which allows Duckhorn fans to purchase these wines with a high degree of confidence that they will be pleased with their selection. Lastly, Duckhorn has always been, and continues to be, a high class organization and a staple in the Napa Valley. So if you find yourself in that neck of the woods, be sure to head over there for a visit and tasting… just tell ’em the Westchester Wine Guy sent ya 😉