Duckhorn Merlot Howell Mountain 1995
Founded by Dan and Margaret Duckhorn in 1976, Duckhorn Vineyards has been crafting classic Napa Valley wines for nearly 40 years. This winemaking tradition has grown to include seven meticulously farmed 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. Pioneering and perfecting Merlot as a premium varietal, Duckhorn Vineyards now makes several elegant Merlot and distinctive Cabernet Sauvignon bottlings that showcase its premium vineyard sites. Duckhorn Vineyards has been named one of the “Top 100 Wineries” in the world eight times by Wine & Spirits, and the 2014 Duckhorn Vineyards Napa Valley Merlot Three Palms Vineyard was named the “2017 Wine of the Year,” topping Wine Spectator’s annual list of the world’s “Top 100 Wines.”
Winemaking in Howell Mountain was abandoned during Prohibition, and wasn’t reawakened until the arrival of Randy Dunn, a talented winemaker famous for the success of Caymus in the 1970s and 1980s. In the early eighties, he set his sights on the Napa hills and subsequently astonished the wine world with a Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. Shortly thereafter Howell Mountain became officially recognized as the first sub-region of Napa Valley (1983).
With vineyards at 1,400 to 2,000 feet in elevation, they predominantly sit above the fog line but the days in Howell Mountain remain cooler than those in the heart of the valley, giving the grapes a bit more time on the vine.
The Howell Mountain AVA includes 1,000 acres of vineyards interspersed by forestlands in the Vaca Mountains. The soils, shallow and infertile with good drainage, are volcanic ash and red clay and produce highly concentrated berries with thick skins. The resulting wines are full of structure and potential to age.
With generous fruit and supple tannins, Merlot is made in a range of styles from everyday-drinking to world-renowned and age-worthy. Merlot is the dominant variety in the wines from Bordeaux’s Right Bank regions of St. Emilion and Pomerol, where it is often blended with Cabernet Franc to spectacular result. Merlot also frequently shines on its own, particularly in California’s Napa Valley. Somm Secret—As much as Miles derided the variety in the 2004 film, Sideways, his prized 1961 Château Cheval Blanc is actually a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.