Duckhorn Three Palms Merlot 2015
#93 Wine Enthusiast Top 100 Cellar Selections of 2019
Since their inaugural vintage in 1978, Duckhorn Vineyards has been proud to craft a vineyard-designate bottling from Three Palms. One of California’s first single-vineyard Merlots, this full-bodied wine reflects Three Palms’ unique terroir and has been a consistent benchmark for New World Merlot. Named for its three iconic palm trees, the warm, up valley vineyard features lean soils that cause the vines to send their roots deep in search of nutrients, producing an intense, age-worthy wine with complex fruit and mineral layers. Reflecting what can be achieved from a legendary vineyard in an exceptional growing season, this wine displays captivating aromas of fresh cranberry, blueberry, fig, cedar and cocoa nibs.
On the dense, mouth-filling palate, sophisticated notes of wet slate minerality add poise and definition to flavors of plum, molasses, cherry, and crushed rose petals. Silky tannins carry the wine to a beautifully structured finish with hints of moist earth, cranberry, and bittersweet chocolate.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
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.”
One of Napa Valley’s oldest wine growing subregions but last to gain appellation status, Calistoga occupies the northernmost section of the valley. Beginning at the foot of Mount St. Helena, its vineyards stretch over steep canyons and roll out onto the valley floor. The soils in Calistoga are volcanic, which means they are heavy in minerals, low in organic matter and allow good drainage for vine roots, creating less green growth and more concentration of flavor within the grape berries.
Summer days are very hot but most nights cool down with moist ocean breezes sneaking in over the Mayacamas Mountains or from Knights Valley to its northwest.
Cabernet Sauvignon is the area’s star variety with Zinfandel coming in a strong second, though the latter commands far less price per tonnage so continues to be outshined by Cabernet in vineyard acreage, save for some important exceptions.
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.