Last evening pulled two Merlot’s to do a compare and contrast and ultimately to enjoy!
This 2017 came through like a champion. As you probably know, Duckhorn Vineyards has historically made exceptional wines, specifically Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlots (Three Palms). This had those great qualities. On the eyes, deep dark crimson coloring and medium heavy viscosity in the glass. On the nose, the aromas of dark fruit, especially blackberries, with a sweet vanilla wafted into the senses. On the mouth licorice, leather and black tea filled the palate. All producing a medium and extremely smooth silky finish. This 2017 Duckhorn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon finished aligned with my expectations of structure and tannins providing a more typical Duckhorn vintage with a strong finish. Aged 16 months in 100% French oak (50% new, 50% used). It is a blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, .5% Cabernet Franc and .5% Petit Verdot. The current release is the 2019 and goes for $115/bottle.
The 2019 Acre Merlot, Napa Valley, is one strong Merlot. The color in the glass is your first clue this is a different Merlot. The color is dark purple and intriguing with a medium heavy viscosity on the eyes. On the nose, chocolate covered berries, strawberries and vanilla waft into the senses. On the palate, this is not your warm and cuddling drink that is relaxing and comforting to sip. You are awoken with the first sip to an explosive mouthful of Bing cherries, plums, rough and tough tannins with subtle earthy tones of bramble and minerality. No soft and warm Merlot here. The finish has a textual feel and a complex layered structure continues to enhance the wine consumer. The words chewy and masculine come to mind in describing this beautiful wine. While having so much brawny characteristics, it still presents on the finish as elegant and charming. This is a Merlot to absolutely enjoy today but suspect laying it down for a few years will only increase its potential. Aged in 40% new French oak barrels for 16 months. The wine uses 100% Merlot grapes and comes from Stags Leap AVA. Current release price is $42
In the end both wines were excellent and hit the mark to enjoy this under rated and misaligned varietal.