Legendary Duckhorn Merlot
In Napa Valley, 2014 will go down in history as a “dream vintage” for winemakers (so dubbed by Wine Spectator). In a stunning year that gave birth to perfectly ripe grapes, with immense concentrated and complexity (thanks to the fourth consecutive year of drought), Napa’s iconic Duckhorn Vineyards produced it’s BEST EVER 95-point Wine Spectator #1 Wine of the Year — this 2014 Duckhorn Three Palms Vineyard Merlot. A tremendous bottling from a legendary producer, this “powerful red” is “layered with plenty of rich spice and mineral accents.” It is a sumptuous and opulent beauty to drink now, and is built to age gracefully well into the late 2020s. Positively not to be missed.
In 1978, Dan Duckhorn contracted for 15 acres of Merlot set on rocky volcanic soils, created by the outwash of Selby Creek where it spills out of Dutch Henry Canyon. Along with Opus One, Silver Oak, and Phelps Insignia, Duckhorn Three Palms Vineyard Merlot would soon become one of Napa Valley’s most iconic wines. Thirty-three years later, Duckhorn finally purchased Three Palms and immediately began raising the bar in the vineyard.
But the story begins further back in time — in 1850, when a seven-year-old girl named 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 in 1929.
One came in the form of San Francisco’s iconic Coit Tower. Another was Coit’s Napa Valley residence; a property that sadly fell apart after Lillie’s death. Despite the disrepair, three lonely palm trees stood tall; a reminder of potential and hope from a bygone era.
Fast forward to the mid-70s. Dan Duckhorn and Sterling Vineyard’s brilliant winemaker Ric Forman hatched a plan that could only be realized by extensive study in Bordeaux. The duo spent a better part of a year traveling to France and studying Right and Left Bank; whenever they returned home, they’d scour Napa for vineyard opportunities with first growth potential. Finally, in 1978, Lillie’s palms caught their eye. This discovery laid the foundation of one of the most desirable Bordeaux-style reds in Napa’s history.
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