Monitor Ledge takes its name from an outcropping in the mountains overlooking the vineyard. The fruit from Monitor Ledge has been an important component of Duckhorn Vineyards wine blends since 1985. Located on the alluvial fan of Selby Creek, the site is composed of cobblestones and a gravelly, sandy loam soil. Because water drains rapidly in the lean soil, the vines struggle to grow, and the resulting fruit has intensity and structure that make the wines from this vineyard unique. With excellent sun exposure, the fruit consistently ripens to ideal maturity. This vineyard is often the first we harvest, bringing us an early indication of the quality of the vintage to come.
Known for its red-berry character, this wine's core of Cabernet Sauvignon from Monitor Ledge was blended with Merlot to add texture and velvety roundness, and a small amount of Petit Verdot to enhance color and intensity. One of the most rich and mouth-filling Monitor Ledge Vineyard bottlings we have ever produced, it displays all the hallmarks of this great vineyard. The aroma is dominated by elements of raspberry, red cherry and nutmeg with underlying notes of cinnamon spice, while the palate offers bright acidity, red berry flavors and layers of cassis, crème brûlée, vanilla and chocolate.
The 2005 season began with a wet winter and spring, which led to annual rainfall totals that were well above average. We had an ideal fruit set, which produced an abundant number of full grape clusters. As a result, the vintage yielded exceptional fruit for the season. The harvest lasted over two months—into the early days of November. In many ways the 2005 season was reminiscent of the excellent 1997 vintage, which offered an abundant harvest of remarkable quality.
Founded in 1976, Duckhorn Vineyards has been crafting Bordeaux varietals from the Napa Valley for over 30 years. This winemaking tradition has grown to include seven estate vineyards, located throughout the various microclimates of the Napa Valley. Focused on quality and consistency, these estate vineyards are an essential element in making wines of distinction.
One of the first wineries to pioneer Merlot as a premium varietal, Duckhorn Vineyards now makes several elegant Merlot and distinctive Cabernet Sauvignon bottlings to showcase the characteristics of its vineyard sites. In addition, the winery is known for its acclaimed Sauvignon Blanc. Beginning with the 2006 vintage, Duckhorn Vineyards unveiled The Discussion, a Cabernet Sauvignon-based blend that represents the pinnacle of Duckhorn's portfolio.
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It's hard not to think of Napa Valley when thinking of California wines. The region is, after all, the one that brought world recognition to California wine making. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard lands were scooped up and vines were planted throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, from large conglomerates to small boutiques to cult classics. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux Blends. Whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Within the Napa Valley lie smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two is St.-Helena and finally, just granted an AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap and Mount Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.