2012 Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot Three Palms Vineyard Napa Valley

2012 Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot Three Palms Vineyard Napa Valley

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A past Wine Access story about 2012 Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot Three Palms Vineyard Napa Valley

Lillie Hitchcock Coit, Dan Duckhorn, and Knickerbocker Fire Company #5


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.

One came in the form of the Coit Tower, a slender 210-foot concrete column that rises atop Telegraph Hill, an ageless emblem of the San Francisco skyline. Another was 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 45 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.

From the phenomenal 2012 vintage in Napa Valley, this new release is the richest, most Cabernet-like Three Palms in 30 years!

The 2012 Duckhorn Three Palms Merlot is opaque purple, infused with luscious aromas crushed black fruits, graphite, and tobacco, laced with new-wood cedar. Extraordinarily rich and dense yet silken in texture, the finish is classic Three Palms — at once soft and sturdy, arguing for a 10- to 20-year stay in a cool cellar.

93 points. 240 bottles have been earmarked for WineAccess at $92/bottle. Shipping included on 3.

92 Points James Suckling
91 Points Wine Spectator

Customer Ratings

Based on 38 ratings


About Duckhorn Vineyards

Producer Facts

Winery Name

Duckhorn Vineyards

Web Site



Dan and Margaret Duckhorn

Napa Valley 2012

Near-perfect conditions on the heels of two challenging years had Napa winemakers smiling as the 2012 harvest came to a close. To begin the season, spring bud break went off in perfect conditions, as did flowering and fruit set, setting the stage for a solid crop in terms of quantity. The summer continued with textbook conditions — warm days and cool nights allowing ripening with good flavors, sugars, and acid. Wines are rich, forward, and concentrated with plush, deep, dark fruit.

The ongoing drought played a role, with careful attention to irrigation causing some preliminary worries. Grapes did show some evidence of the stress with smaller, concentrated berries and higher polyphenols in the skins, but in the end these were more a contributing factor to the concentration and excellent quality of the fruit than a reason for concern.

Harvest started with a moderate September followed by a warm spell (with several days over 100°F) at the start of October, four days of rains to close out the month, and overall excellent conditions.

The results from these terrific conditions is a good-sized crop of very high-quality wines that are well-structured and concentrated with deep colors for the reds, slightly higher alcohols from the long ripening, but also in most cases with enough freshness and acidity to balance. Overall, they are wines with enough seductive fruit to be approachable young, but the best should age and develop for a decade and more.

Key Dates

Early bud break

Harvest starts for sparkling wine

Harvest starts for still wine

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