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Duckhorn Three Palms Vineyard / Plasencia Alma del Fuego


14.5% ABV 


Napa Valley

Duckhorn Vineyards was founded in 1976 on Dan and Margaret Duckhorn’s gamble that Americans were ready to drink a world-class Napa Valley merlot wine. 

Prior to the couple’s commitment, merlot was mainly used as a blending grape in the production of other wines. But the Duckhorns’ first harvest in 1978 produced 800 cases of Three Palms Vineyard Merlot and 800 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon. Today, Duckhorn Vineyards is still producing bordeaux varietal wines while racking up plaudits. 

Starting in 1988, the Duckhorns developed an estate program that grew vineyards and brought a continuous supply of fruit. They selected properties in recognized Napa Valley appellations and put together a portfolio of nine sites, each producing a grape that distinctly reflected the site’s soil, microclimate, and terrain. 

The properties were worked by an in-house team at Monitor Ledge Vineyards and Three Palm Vineyards outside Calistoga, Stout Vineyards, Marlee’s Vineyards, Patzimaro Vineyards, Rector Creek Vineyards near Yountville, and Cork Tree Vineyards near Vichy Springs. 

The Duckhorns sold the winery in 2007 to GI Partners, which invested $70 million in the operation, including the purchase of Three Palms Vineyards. The winery was sold in 2016 to TSG Consumer Partners, a private equity fund. 

From the beginning, Margaret Duckhorn worked alongside founding winemaker Tom Rinaldi in the production of their wines. A beloved figure at Duckhorn Vineyards and active throughout the Napa wine community, Margaret died in November 2022, at the age of 83. 

Duckhorn Wineries and its favorite grape have earned honors and recognition over the years. The 13.5 acres of merlot vines at Rector Creek produced a 2016 wine that garnered 95 points from Wine Spectator. And in 2017 Duckhorn’s 2014 Three Palms merlot collected 95 points and was named the magazine’s Wine of the Year. 

Besides its signature merlot, Duckhorn produces cabernet sauvignon, malbec, a blend of red wines, chardonnay, cabernet franc, and sauvignon blanc. In addition to Duckhorn, the company winery sells wine under the brands Decoy, Paraduxx, Goldeneye, Canvasback, Migration, and Calera. 

Pairing by: Erik Calviño

Tasting Notes: 2020 Duckhorn Three Palms Vineyard Merlot

A wonderfully complex merlot that pours out dark ruby in the glass and offers up a vibrant and fruit-forward nose of dark cherry, raspberry, and light spice. The flavors continue down that line with an impressively balanced combination of the aforementioned fruits joined by cedar, spice, and a perfect dose of minerality. Tannins are silky but structured and the mouthfeel is full. 

Cigar Pairing: Plasencia Alma del Fuego

 The body and intensity of the Duckhorn Three Palms Merlot begs for a partner that can go shot for shot with it and the Plasencia Alma del Fuego robusto fits the bill extraordinarily well. The cigar is consistently well-made delivering a combination of sweet pepper, earth, and dark chocolate that acts as an ideal backdrop for the wine’s silky smooth tannins and black fruit sweetness. Space out your sips and puffs until you find the timing that works best for you.

This article appeared in the Nov/Dec 2023 issue. Subscribe today to get the magazine in your mailbox.

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Categories: Drink
Manufacturers: Plasencia Cigars



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