Duckhorn and Decoy Merlot

Disclaimer: The Duckhorn and Decoy Merlot bottles reviewed here were samples

Merlot Month continues with two related bottles. Duckhorn is a well-regarded winery in Napa Valley. Decoy is their value brand; selling wine in grocery stores for around $20.

We have not visited Duckhorn, although we have been to their sister property, Paraduxx. We wrote about our experience a couple of years ago. There are several other brands under the Duckhorn umbrella. All of them share waterfowl related names. We did not take either of these bottles on our recent trip to Mendocino, but we drove past Goldeneye, their Anderson Valley winery. We did not stop for a tasting, as we had an appointment at the nearby Lula Cellars. An article about that visit will appear in the near future.

Decoy Merlot

Made with grapes grown in Sonoma County, this wine is 96% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon. Listed on the Decoy site at $20.

The nose was of bright red fruit. It tasted of tart cherry with cocoa notes and dusty tannins. In the mid-palate the fruit softens to raspberry. This was followed by a medium length finish in which the fruit fades and exposes a slight hint of copper.

After the wine had opened up, it become brighter and juicier. Drinkable now.

Duckhorn Merlot

Duckhorn Merlot

The 2016 Duckhorn Merlot draws fruit from several vineyards across Napa Valley. 77% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon, with the remaining 1% split between Petit Verdot and Malbec. A wine must have at least 75% of the main grape variety to be considered a single varietal. Thus this Merlot, as you can see, just satisfies that condition. French oak barrels aged the wine. With a 60/40 split between neutral and new.

The medium intensity aroma encompassed aromas of blackberry, redcurrant, vanilla, and a touch of spice. This alluring bouquet brought a smile to my face. In the mouth bright red fruit provided stunning acidity. In the initial sips, assertive tannins over-shadowed that fruit. As the wine opened, the tannins softened. The finish was long and delightful. You can drink this wine now; we did and enjoyed it. However, there is clear potential for aging. If we had a second bottle, I would seek to revisit it four or five years from now.

The Duckhorn Merlot sells for $56.

Duckhorn and Decoy Summary

Both of these wines share bright fruit and good balance. The Decoy is a buy and drink now. Its price reflects that. The Duckhorn is more expensive, but offers a more complex wine with far greater potential for aging. Both offer value at their respective price points.


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