Napa Valley Stop #1- Duckhorn Vineyards

After renting a Dodge Caliber in San Francisco, the Windy City Wine Guy and wife drove up to Napa Valley.  It was a hot September day and the views along the way were well worth the short trip.  After passing through St. Helena, we arrived at Duckhorn.  Started by the Duckhorn family in 1976, they have been producing Bordeaux varietal wines for over 30 years.  The entire company was sold to GI Partners in 2007 and still holds up to great wine standards. 

After entering the Estate House, we were introduced to their entire current vintage portfolio by Danny Rodriguez.  Danny's pride and knowledge for the product was almost as incredible as the wines themselves.  After our tasting we were taken on a tour by Ryan Moore, Retail Operations Director and a former Windy City dweller.  We walked through the vineyards surrounding the house, which were recently harvested Sauvignon Blanc vines.  A few grapes were left behind so we sampled them- what a treat!  Our next stop was to the winery- juice was fermenting in large stainless steel tanks waiting to be put into new 100% French oak barrels for at least 16 months aging (20 months for estate wines).  If you ever get a chance to smell an aging room then go for it- the smell of oak and wine is amazing. 

Here is a list of the wines we sampled:

  • 2007 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc- great tropical fruit and body from 20% new oak and sur lie aging.  Contains 25% Semillon. 

  • 2005 Napa Valley Estate Grown Merlot- this is a full rich style from an excellent vintage.  Earth, tobacco and leather accompany spice on the nose while silky fruit and berries flow on the mouth.  Also blended with some Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot.

  • 2005 3 Palm Vineyard Merlot- a bit more tannin, earth, and more prevalent chocolate and toast.  Not as silky but great finish.  A higher % of blending varietals involved in this wine.

  • 2005 Howell Mt. Red- Over 90% Merlot makes this a juicy and smooth wine.  The flavors are more compex with herbs, dark fruit, and minerals. 

  • 2005 Napa Cab- ageworthy with strong tannins, grippy dark fruit, and long finish- asking for beef!

  • 2005 Patzimaro Vineyard Cab- great minerality, acidity, and tannin.  The deep dark fruits mingle with mint and pepper.  Good amounts of Cabernet Franc and Merlot in the blend.

  • 2005 Monitor Ledge Cab- dark dried fruit, cocoa, baking spice, and vanilla make this a delicious wine.  Merlot and Petit Verdot for deep color added to the blend.

The wines can be a bit pricey, but they are collectible and always garner great scores.  Have them shipped or look in your local wine shops.  Also keep on the lookout for the other wines which fall under the Duckhorn Company- Goldeneye and Migration Pinot Noir, Paraduxx Zin/Cab blends, and Canvasback Rhone/Cab blends. 

I want to thank Ryan, Danny, and Duckhorn for making our first morning in Napa a memorable experience!