2009 Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot Three Palms Vineyard Napa Valley (in magnum)
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WE 95 points
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Three Palms Vineyard Three Palms Merlot

At the age of seven, Lillie Hitchcock Coit was rescued by a firefighter from a burning hotel. Years later, to repay her debt, she became the fire engine company's most prominent patron. Known for her philanthropy, legendary parties and devotion to the Knickerbocker Fire Engine Company #5, Lillie would leave significant marks on the Bay Area when she passed away.

The first came in the form of the Coit Tower, a slender 210-foot concrete column that rises atop Telegraph Hill, an ageless emblem on the San Francisco skyline. The second is Coit's Napa Valley residence, sadly left in disuse and ruin after the crash in 1929.

The Napa property was set on the rocky volcanic soils in the northeastern side of the valley created by the outwash of Selby Creek where it spills out of Dutch Henry Canyon. At the time of her death, the estate manor was dilapidated, but three lonely palm trees remained. Sixty years later, Coit's palms would become one of wine country's most legendary markers.

Fast-forward forty-five years. Dan Duckhorn and the brilliant Napa Valley winemaker Ric Forman were hatching a plan. The duo took off for Paris, then trained down to Bordeaux, where they'd spend the better part of a year studying both the Right and Left Banks of the world's greatest wine route. After each trip, Duckhorn would return to Napa, scouting the valley for vineyard opportunities that might offer First Growth potential. Finally, in 1978, Duckhorn and Foreman came home and concluded their 18-month study by contracting for 15 acres of Merlot planted all around Lillie Hitchcock Coit's three palm trees. So began the story of one of the most sought after Bordeaux-style red wines in Napa Valley history.

Beginning in the late 1980s, every top steakhouse in America stood in line for its annual allocation of Dan Duckhorn's Three Palms Merlot. As demand exploded and Duckhorn's direct mailing list grew in tandem, little by little, Three Palms became harder and harder to locate at retail. In short vintages, like the brilliant 2009 harvest -- what many collectors view as the finest Three Palms of the decade -- only a handful of wine shops were granted a small allocation of 750ml cases -- and not a single magnum. Until today.

Glistening violet in color, with a gorgeous high-toned nose of cherries, raspberries, wet-stone and cola. Rich, full and concentrated on the attack, balanced by signature Right Bank poise. Darkly concentrated with raspberry, currants, spice, and Three Palms minerality, bracketed by the supple age-worthy tannins for which Napa's greatest Merlot has long been known.

Tasting Notes

2009 Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot Three Palms Vineyard Napa Valley (in magnum)
"This is classic Three Palms Merlot--as excellent as anything Duckhorn has ever produced. It shows the hard tannins that always mark the winery's Bordeaux-style red wines, but it's luscious and deep in berry fruit, licorice, grilled meat and cola. It should have no difficulty negotiating the years. Give it until around 2015, but if you can't wait, at least decant it for a few hours."
95 points -- Wine Enthusiast

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