Winery: Duckhorn Vineyards
Bottling: 2004 Duckhorn Howell Mountain Red Wine
Sub-Region: Napa Valley, Howell Mountain
Estimated Retail Price: $75 on the winery website
Purchase Details: I paid $74.99 at guess where? Woodland Hills Wine Co.
Tasting Source: Had during the Christmas holiday season 2008/09
Tasting Notes: I just knew we were drinking this too early, but it was the holidays and my dad wanted to throw down some cash to celebrate the holidays and the birth of my sister’s first child. Drinking charts on the Duckhorn website show cellar lives of up to fifteen years for this wine. That’s a long time to wait!
Initially the aromas were very closed and veered more towards herb and cedar with only a hint of berry. About two and half hours later, a lot more fruit started to appear on the nose, so we dove right in. Really grippy and beefy, burly tannins in the mouth. Flavors of currants, dark plum and berry were present, but that’s about it.
I know this wine was built for the long haul, so this was probably not the best tasting evaluation. I can say with confidence though, that this will surely be better with a couple of years of bottle age on it. It’s something you could definitely throw in the cellar and assign a consumption date equal to that of your first born’s high school graduation.
Food and Context in Which to Enjoy: If you’re going to rob the cradle like we did, I’d say you get the most highly marbled rib-eye steak you can, pan sear it, and then slather it with an herb butter. You’re going to really need some fat to coat your mouth so those gnarly tannins have something to chew on. I’d also think about drinking only half of the wine on the first day. Cork it and let it sit for a day. That should calm everything down and let the fruit come out.
Winery Background: Duckhorn Vineyard’s reputation was built on merlot, but they also make some pretty darn good cabernet sauvignons and a solid, moderately oaked sauvignon blanc. Their standard Napa Valley merlot bottling was probably one of the top 5 sellers in our shop.
I met Dan Duckhorn once, but only briefly, during a luncheon he and the local supplier hosted at The Halekulani Hotel in Honolulu. The man was a gentleman indeed. He was also generous enough to share with the large luncheon group, some 2003 Chateau Cheval Blanc to showcase alongside his Three Palms Merlot and several other of his wines. Thanks Mr. Duckhorn!
The family is considered to be one of the pioneers in Napa Valley, and have since 1973, been making outstanding wine for collectors as well as the masses. In the most recent decade, they’ve created a couple of wineries under the Duckhorn company umbrella, to showcase pinot noir (Goldeneye) and a zinfandel/cabernet sauvignon blend (Paraduxx).