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duckhornDuckhorn is best known for their Merlot but they make a good Cabernet as well. However, 2011 was a tough year for Napa Cabernet. Producers battled cool weather in the spring and summer and a wet fall leading to ripening problems and rot. How well are these Cabs doing after some time in the bottle?

This one is sophisticated and precise on the nose, showing some depth with layers of blackberry, dusty earth, tobacco, and a dried fig undercurrent. Nicely integrated vanilla notes from the oak settle into the background. Yet, this is not a big wine. Its distinctive feature is a velvety caress on the mid-palate with good length before the tannins really kick in.  Unfortunately, the medium length finish turns angular as it fades. The tannins seem to have softened but some coarse woodiness on the finish mars an otherwise solid wine. More elegant than intense and complex enough to hold your interest, but in the end incomplete, it’s a good buy if you find it at a reduced price.

The blend is 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 2% Malbec, 2% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot, aged for 16 months in 30% new French Oak.

Score: 88

Price: $66

Alc: 13.5%

What accompaniment would be sophisticated, precise but with some sharp edges to goad the complacent? Well Steely Dan of course.

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