Categorized | California Wines, Merlot, Reviews

2006 Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot

Duckhorn Winery, based in St. Helena California, produces bordeaux-style wines and has considered one of that regions top-quality producers for almost two decades. Its unyielding commitment to quality has long been cemented by its award-winning merlot which it now produces over 30,000 cases of. 

This merlot was one of my “gateway” wines back in my early days of getting into red wines – I remember it have a finish to die for – lush, velvety and just full of excellent fruit which still sticks in the back of my mind even to this day.

This “Napa Valley” Merlot features grapes harvested from 36 different vineyards and really underscores the blending talents of the winemaking staff at Duckhorn. Getting the right comination of blend percentages can be a tricky process, much less working from 36 varrying vineyards and microclimates.

Technical Data:

  • Varietal Content: 96% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Petit Verdot
  • Appellation: Napa Valley
  • Harvest Dates: September 9 — October 31, 2006
  • Average Sugar at Harvest: 25.6 degrees Brix
  • 36 Vineyards Harvested
  • Cooperage: 100% French Oak Château-style Barrels (60 Gallons)
  • Barrel Aging: 16 Months
  • Age of Barrels: 30% new, 70% second vintage
  • Alcohol: 14.5%
  • 0.67 g/100 ml titratable acidity
  • 8-10 days fermentation at 80?F
  • pH: 3.33
  • Bottled: April 2008
  • Price: $52

Nose: Blackberries, currant, dark cherries, saddle soap with hints of rose petal and leather. 

Taste: Firm tannin structure with the classic black fruit that Merlot is known for – fruit hits heavy on the palate like pepper-laced blackberry jam and then brings in nice subtleties of cedar and spice. The finish isn’t nearly as long as it should be and at its pricepoint of $52 – I think there are plenty of better wines out there. The tannins should mellow out a lot over the next 3-6 years and I’d be interested in trying this wine again at that time.

I ended-up putting the cork back on the the bottle and tracked its progress over the course of a few days – it defintely started to relax a lot which showed-off the blackfruits even more and helped balance the finish a bit more; however, it’s still not remotely being worth the price being asked for it so on that alone, I’d have to give this wine a huge pass.

W.E.P. Rating: 50%

Winery website: www.duckhornvineyards.com