Duckhorn Merlot Review (2021) – Napa Valley

Duckhorn Merlot Featured

What Kind of Wine Is Duckhorn Merlot?

A sophisticated full-bodied red, Duckhorn Merlot is the reigning wine of Napa Valley. To take a sip is quite an experience, and the finishing is opulent. Composed mainly of the Merlot grape, it fills the wine with flavors of generous, plump fruits. A small mixture of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec are crafted together in this wine which adds to the complexity and unique, deep flavors.

This Merlot is a true reflection of masterful and passionate wine-making. Although inspired by Merlot’s in Pomerol, an influential wine region of Bordeaux, it has without a doubt exceeded even the most prestigious of wines. With a plethora of rave Duckhorn Merlot reviews and the winner of “Wine of the Year” by WineSpector, Duckhorn Merlot certainly lives up to the hype. Through the creativity of their wine-making, they have forged a beautifully structured, rounded, and approachable wine. Even those unfamiliar with red wines will find the Duckhorn Merlot irresistible.


Duckhorn Merlot Review

  • Winery — Duckhorn
  • Country/Region — Napa Valley, California, America
  • Type — Californian Red
  • Aroma — Black Cherry, Spiced Plum, Cedar, Tobacco, Vanilla
  • Grapes — Merlot
  • Taste — Cherries, Raspberry, Black Pump, Tobacco, Oak
  • Alcohol Content — 14.5%
  • Sugar — Very Dry
  • Pairing — Bold Red Meats, Sweet Fruits, Soft Cheeses

Drinking a glass of Duckhorn Merlot is an exceptional experience. Sophisticated yet approachable, it meets all the criteria that you require in a bottle of red. Lingering in your mouth, with a graceful explosion of flavors and scents, you will be anticipating the next sip. With its artistic production, it is a wine that deserves to be savored, and each layer explored.

The combination of bursting fruit and spicy notes will complement each other in your mouth. It is an utter luxury, and while celebrated by the most experienced wine-lovers, the taste allows even novices to cherish and appreciate this wine. So, take my review as an invitation to indulge in this velvety, regal wine.

Overall Rating: 4.6

Positives
  • One Of The Best Merlot-Based Wines
  • Unique Flavors
  • Very Balanced
  • Easily Recognizable
Negatives
  • Over-Ripe
  • Bit Sour For Some Tastes

Tasting Notes

Duckhorn Merlot is a soft and elegant red wine. Layered, yet well balanced, each flavor is brought together in perfect harmony. It is a wine that never overwhelms you. Yet, it has a nuance of sophistication. This is due to the softness, both in taste and texture, of the Merlot grape. With an approachable palate consisting of sleek, deep fruits complemented with tobacco, cedar, and vanilla notes, it is a merlot that transcends all other reds on the market. It is undoubtedly a refined wine suited to the most extravagant events. However, the smooth, rounded structure reconstructs this wine and allows it to be drunk on the most casual evenings.

Appearance

Shrouded in a warm peach background and framed by a burgundy border, the Duckhorn label stands out as refined and tasteful. The duck, a nod to the name, sits in the label’s center, majestic and striking against the vintage backdrop. The thoughtfully crafted label reflects the taste and quality of this Merlot. The first pour of this wine reveals a sparkling ruby color as it fills the glass. Then, with a delicate balance of sediment, the wine settles, and a deep garnet emerges. The appearance of this wine foreshadows the smooth, creamy taste the first sip will bring.

Aroma

A voluptuous and layered aromatic profile characterizes the Duckhorn Napa Merlot. The elegant fragrance of black cherry lingers pleasantly on the nose while other secondary notes surface. The palate delicately conveys the sweet perfume of berries that are commonly associated with the Merlot grape. Emerging later are notes of spiced plum, tobacco, cedar, and a subtle, sweet hint of vanilla erupts from the secondary grapes and aging of this wine. The fusion of this aromatic profile encapsulates the complex, layered structure of this red. Fruit-forward and earthy, each layer has its distinct fragrance that complements but never overpowers each other.

Taste

The flavors of this red impart a weighted, rounded structure that brings a mixture of spicy sweetness. This palate evokes a real sense of sophistication encouraged by the plump fruits and smokey cedar aftertaste. The taste of the rich fruits features forward in the mouth and lingers softly, while the earthy flavor of oak and tobacco surface at the back, complementing the palate to create a lush, lively merlot. The Duckhorn Merlot wine’s taste and texture are further elevated by the wine’s dryness, creating a refined mouth feel. Each sip of this beautiful wine delivers elegantly crafted flavors.

Finish

With a velvety, sophisticated finish, this wine is heavenly on the palate. The integrated flavors remain subtle in the mouth, highlighting the intricate texture of this red. It is enduring, yet the notes allow the red to be polished, creating a sleek buttery texture. Notes of tobacco and clove linger in the finish, gracefully marrying the dark fruits of the Merlot together. The subtle hint of vanilla and cedar add to the alluring depth, stimulated further by the dry oak. The dramatic finish evokes nostalgia and mystery, bringing together a notion of royalty and elegance.

Rating

As a Merlot enthusiast, I find that I can be overly critical of the grape. This rise in popularity has led to an overwhelming saturation in the market for this red. This means that you can often find brands and bottles that are less than impressive, despite using this fantastic grape. However, the Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot is an authentic tribute to this beautiful grape and is, without a doubt, a superior wine.

This is one of the most recognized, award-winning, and highly esteemed Merlots worldwide. Consistent year after year, this Merlot is crafted in an almost artistic manner, and through this, you can taste the passion and care that goes into each bottle.

Duckhorn Merlot Food Pairing

Merlot’s are celebrated for their versatility with food pairing. Considered a leisurely drink, Merlot is smooth, round, and less tannic than other wines. This makes it easy to pair with a wide variety of foods. Although an elegant wine, Duckhorn Merlot is still an exceptionally diverse and versatile red. However, to obtain the full luxurious experience of this Merlot, it is best paired with dishes that combine savory and sweet elements. Dishes such as braised veal shanks, pork belly cooked in miso, and duck dressed in a pomegranate sauce are the perfect partners.

This wine is not just for rich, main dishes. It also complements hor d’oeuvres and charcuterie boards. Cheeses such as Gouda, Brie, and Gorgonzola served with a fig and cranberry chutney are enjoyable when served with the Duckhorn Merlot. It is a wine that can be enjoyed at any moment, with any meal to add luxury to the simplest of moments.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who Makes Duckhorn Merlot?

Dan and Margret Duckhorn initially established the Duckhorn Merlot vineyard in 1976. Inspired by the Pomerol region in Bordeaux, they sought to create their variation in California. Napa Valley was once only regarded for its production of Cabernet Sauvignon. However, Duckhorn vineyard pioneered the production of Merlot in this area and became the signature red.

It is from their passionate determination to bring Merlot into Napa Valley that has raised Duckhorn Merlot into the upper echelon of wine. By 2005, Alex Ryan was appointed as CEO. Having a rich history and experience in Duckhorn vineyard, he has propelled this wine into the popular domain with the help of acclaimed wine-maker, Renee Ary.

How Is Duckhorn Merlot Made?

Duckhorn Merlot and their esteemed wine-maker Renee Ary reject the traditional idea that formula is a must with wine-making. They break the norms of tradition and focus more on using taste to measure their ingredients and use instinct to create unique and individualistic wine, transforming it into an art form.

They carefully select each grape, ensuring that they are plucked when the tannins are at their softest. Here, they blend almost 200 lots to create the distinct flavor of their Merlot. After fermentation, the Merlot is aged in French oak for 15 months, reflecting the unique character of this Merlot, spicy yet sweet, fruit-forward, and smoky.

Where Is Duckhorn Merlot Made?

This wine originates in the world-famous wine region of Napa Valley, California. Meaning the land of the plenty, Napa Valley produces the highest quality grapes and is famous for its fruity Merlots, smooth Chardonnays, and dense Cabernet Sauvignons. The exceptional wines produced here are thanks to the unique climate, diverse soil types, and sporadic rainfall. This encourages longer vine growth with more intense flavors. The vast array of volcanic soil causes deep root growth within the vines, yielding an intense, flavorful wine with mineral notes.

Merlot is grown initially in colder climates, but with Napa Valley’s heat, the grape transforms and provides denser, more concentrated fruit flavors. The Duckhorn Merlot has seven vineyards in Napa Valley and, with its microclimates, produces unique grapes in each location. Their most prestigious and sought-after vineyard is the Three Palms Vineyard, which they acquired in 2014. Exposed to lean soil and volcanic rocks that heat the vines at night, the grape is created into a refined, age-worthy wine that Duckhorn Merlot is renowned for.

How to Serve Duckhorn Merlot?

This wine is best served at a temperature of 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit (15-18 degrees Celsius). Unlike other reds, Merlot is best when it is slightly chilled. Given that room temperature exceeds the ideal range for Merlot, it is recommended to chill in the refrigerator for a maxim of 15 minutes. Once the bottle has slightly cooled, aerate the wine for between 20 minutes to an hour.

This wine should be poured into a deep wine glass to encourage the aromas and flavors of this red. Merlot is a wine that is simple, but it is vital to store it in the refrigerator if the bottle has not been finished. The flavors of this wine will remain fresh for 2-4 days until oxidation takes place.

How Much Does Duckhorn Merlot Cost?

Due to this wine’s superiority, the Duckhorn Merlot price is higher than most 750ml bottles of Merlot with the price ranging between $50-$100 – depending on the vintage. It is a wine that is an investment and should be enjoyed in the way that will give you the most pleasure.

How Long Does Duckhorn Merlot Last?

Being a full-bodied red, this Merlot ages beautifully, and Duckhorn has many vintages available. However, the peak drinking time for the Duckhorn Merlot is between 7 to 10 years, becoming a more nuanced and layered wine. Once opened, it should be consumed within 2- 4 days to maintain the unique bouquet and flavors.

How Many Calories Does Duckhorn Merlot Have?

The standard for most Merlots, Duckhorn Merlot calories content is 124 calories per serving, usually five fl. oz. With a 750ml bottle containing roughly six servings, Duckhorn Merlot’s calorie intake is 744. The calorie breakdown of this red is 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of fiber, 0.1 grams of protein, and 3.7 grams of carbohydrates. For those wondering, this is a full-bodied wine, so the Duckhorn Merlot alcohol content is 14.5% ABV.

Conclusion

Drinking a glass of Duckhorn Merlot is an exceptional experience. Sophisticated yet approachable, it meets all the criteria that you require in a bottle of red. Lingering in your mouth, with a graceful explosion of flavors and scents, you will be anticipating the next sip. With its artistic production, it is a wine that deserves to be savored, and each layer explored. The combination of bursting fruit and spicy notes will complement each other in your mouth. It is an utter luxury, and while celebrated by the most experienced wine-lovers, the taste allows even novices to cherish and appreciate this wine. So, take my review as an invitation to indulge in this velvety, regal wine.

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