Napa Valley Merlot with Cornish Game Hens and Sauvignon Blanc with Goat Cheese Salad

This week we travel to Napa Valley in the North Coast region of California. Napa Valley is considered one of the top wine growing regions in the world, dating commercial wine production back to the 19th century and premium production beginning in the 1960s.

The valley floor, flanked by the Mayacamas Mountain Range and the Vaca Mountains, gradually rises from sea level at the southern end to around 350 feet above sea level on the northern end in Calistoga. Coupled with the low valley and the mountains flanking both sides, Napa Valley contains many sub regions that are perfect for growing Bordeaux style grapes as well as other varietals.

Duckhorn Vineyards lies on the valley floor in St. Helena along the Napa River. Established in 1976 with a focus on Merlot, Duckhorn has grown to become a major Bordeaux style wine producer with eight vineyards throughout the valley’s sub regions.

Their vineyards include:
• Marlee’s Vineyard – the first vineyard planted, and their home vineyard along the Napa River on the valley floor;
• Patzimaro Vineyard – at the base of Spring Mountain with high daytime temperatures and cool evenings that allow the grapes to retain natural acidity for balanced, elegant wines;
• Monitor Ledge Vineyard – on the alluvial fan of Selby Creek with well-draining and lean soil brings about intensity and structure in the grapes grown here;
• Rector Creek Vineyerd – north of Yountville in rocky alluvial soils producing an abundance of red fruit characteristics;
• Candlestick Ridge Vineyard – up in Howell Mountain with steep slopes that are home to some of the Rhone varietals produced by Duckhorn second labels;
• Stout Vineyard – also in Howell Mountain this vineyard is some of Napa Valley’s most sought after soil, producing well-defined Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot among other varietals;
• Cork Tree Vineyard – the southernmost and coolest estate vineyard that produces Bordeaux varietals such as Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc;
• Three Palms Vineyard – rocky, well-drained soil with volcanic stones throughout where Duckhorn has produced a vineyard designated merlot since its inauguration in 1978.
Furthermore, Duckhorn hosts several second labels, including: Decoy, Migration, Paraduxx and Goldeneye.

Decoy Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley 2010
Appearance: clear, straw color
Aroma: lemon-lime zest with some herbal aromas
Flavors: fresh mowed grass comes through with a touch of cream and some lemon-grass
Finishing Notes: finishes with a balanced acidity in an old-world style, very nice food wine

Decoy Merlot Napa Valley 2008

Appearance: brick red with a tinge of purple
Aroma: red plum, vanilla and cedar in the nose
Flavors: picks up a brambly raspberry tone with some fresh ground coffee notes
Finishing Notes: well balanced, in an old-world style with subtle fruit flavors and a nice long finish

Food Pairing:
– Napa Sauvignon Blanc: most salad dishes, foods with brighter acidity such as citrus fruits, sour cream, tomatoes and vinegar based dressings as well as being a good accompaniment to spicier dishes where the wine’s higher acidity and lower alcohol levels cleans and refreshes your palate.
– Napa Merlot: green vegetables, mushrooms and mild citrus fruits, as well as most grilled or smoked meats with berry-based sauces.

Perfect Pairings:
A baked goat cheese with a walnut crust over greens with sliced apples and a balsamic vinaigrette dressing for the sauvignon blanc, and roast Cornish hens stuffed with pork and prunes and presented with a simple butter basting with garlic, thyme and nutmeg.

WINE:30 is written by Karl Bradley and Jody Wuollett. Karl and Jody are both long time residents of Door County and are employed at the Mission Grille in Sister Bay. They have both been awarded the first level of certification from the Court of the Master Sommeliers.

Weekly Wine Trivia
What is the new vineyard nickname for the Three Palms Vineyard?

Email your answer to Karl & Jody at [email protected]. The first correct answer in their inbox will receive a complimentary bottle of wine from them. Cheers!

Last week’s question: Name the three AVA’s that are shared by Washington State and Oregon.
Answer: Walla Walla Valley, Columbia Valley and Columbia Gorge