When we think Duckhorn (and their other brands Goldeneye and Parraduxx), we think Thanksgiving. Last Thanksgiving at Linda’s parent’s place, we ate our turkey and fixings with the 2007 Parraduxx. We loved it so much, we piled into the car (all 6 of us) and visited Parraduxx that weekend (in addition to 4 other wineries). There’s something unique about Duckhorn wines that scream autumn, and amber leaves, brisk wind, and turkey. I wouldn’t be surprised if Duckhorn at Thanksgiving becomes a tradition in our home.
A little while ago, our friends from Boston (along with 4 other couples) came out to California on a spring break business trip and invited us along for the ride. With a crew of 12, we stopped at the Duckhorn estate for their regular tasting. Unlike other tastings where you saddle up to a counter (wineries hate the word bar and will tell you there are no bars in Napa) and receive your tastings, the Duckhorn host led us on a quick tour of the grounds before setting us up in a private room.
We’ve been on tours before, and the Duckhorn tour was fairly similar to the others. You get to see the sorting operation, the fermentation tanks, and the barrel room. Our host went into detail about the fermentation tanks and how it’s his job to clean them after their use. I got a feeling that you throw away your clothes after that day at the office.
The tasting was a relaxed affair, sitting around a large table with nuts, cheese, and cranberries. We got a total of 5 wines: their Sauvignon Blanc along with two Merlots and two Cabernets. The real winner for us was the Merlot, the regular one, not their Three Palms Single Vineyard. While on average we are Cabernet fans, a truly great Merlot can outshine a great Cabernet (possibly because you don’t expect it ever too). The Duckhorn Merlot is absolutely a rockstar wine that shares its full fruit flavor without leaving your mouth dry and sticky.
As we headed back to the main house, I asked our host if he wouldn’t mind pouring a glass or two of the Goldeneye Pinot Noir for the group (Rule #1: It never hurts to ask). We had tried the Goldeneye first at Parraduxx and have never been the same. In fact, the Goldeneye has a special place on our Favorites list. The group shared our high opinion and opted for a bottle of Goldeneye for their time in Tahoe rather than the Duckhorn Merlot. While Duckhorn certainly isn’t the cheapest option, it’s an available top notch option at many restaurants around the country. In fact, I picked a specific steakhouse in NY for my father’s 60th birthday because they offered the Goldeneye. Now pass the corn.