Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Golden Fall Day at Paraduxx Wines – St. Helena, California

After visiting Silverado Vineyards I headed a little north to Paraduxx Wine, a winery that is south on the Silverado Trail from Duckhorn Vineyards - their parent winery. Duckhorn Wine Company originally created Paraduxx to allow its winemakers the freedom to explore other styles of wine making without detracting from Duckhorn Vineyards’ focus on Bordeaux varietals. 

In 1994, Duckhorn sourced 4 tons of Zinfandel from the 100-year-old vines of Napa’s Korte Vineyard. This Zinfandel was blended with Duckhorn Vineyards’ own estate Cabernet Sauvignon, along with smaller amounts of Merlot and Petite Sirah to create the first Paraduxx vintage which was sold at the Duckhorn tasting room before the creation of the Paraduxx winery. 

Duckhorn then created a separate Paraduxx winery and tasting room with its own unique character and yet with the same sit-down tasting platform with a comfortable “at home” feel as Duckhorn Vineyards’ tasting room.

The fruit in Paraduxx wines is cultivated from the four Napa Valley Estate Vineyards. Each site produces grapes with distinct attributes that reflect the variations in soil, terrain, microclimate, and exposure. While Duckhorn Vineyards has a focus on Bordeaux, Paraduxx creates a unique line-up of Zinfandel based wines that are truly remarkable and distinct from all other wineries in the Napa Valley.

The Paraduxx tasting room serves all of the samples of their wines side-by-side in separate Riedel “O” stemless wine glasses with a small dish of complimentary cheeses and crackers, along with decorative tasting note cards displaying a picture of the duck featured on wine’s label which can also be found on the surrounding pictures displayed around the room. But, I first tasted all of the following wines without the cheese to examine them on their own and then sampled them again with the cheese.

My first wine was the 2010 Paraduxx V Blend White Wine. This wine is a blend of 60% Viognier and 40% Chardonnay. I have had two other Viognier/Chardonnay blends before (most recently at Picchetti Winery) and I didn’t care for them as the Chard tended to take away the beauty of the Viognier and the Viognier tended to overshadow the Chardonnay. Well, Paraduxx has definitely pulled it off with this one, this is an absolutely gorgeous wine that displays both elegance and finesse in delivering the strengths and qualities of both wines in a harmonious fashion. On the nose this wine has a beautiful floral nose of honey suckle and orange blossoms followed by melon, apricots, fresh apple and a hint of orange peel. On the palate it is very lively, with great acidity and a lingering lime and citrus finish. I loved this wine so much, I bought two of them at $26 a bottle.

My red wine was the 2009 Paraduxx M Blend, a blend of 69% Zinfandel and 31% Merlot. This wine had the most expressive fruitful nose of all the wines with fresh raspberries, blackberry jam, and fresh ground spices with a soft silky mouth-feel on palate. Although this was the least expensive in the line-up, it was actually my favorite and I brought two of them home at $35 a bottle.

My second red was the 2006 Paraduxx “Cinnamon Teal,” unique a blend of 64% Zinfandel, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, and 2% Cabernet Franc. Surprisingly the nose on this wine was not as vibrant in comparison to the previous wine. Much more Bordeaux-like yet the zin still says “Hi, I’m here!” and it reminded me of the 2009 Lynton Zinfandel I had recently tasted at Ridge Vineyards. A really nice wine, but a bit steep at $60 a bottle.

The third red was 2007 Paraduxx “Hooded Merganser” (72% Zinfandel, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc) A slightly darker and earthier wine than the previous and yet it still has the Zinfandel “zing” that rings through it. On the nose I picked up Cherry cola, raspberries, damp earth, pipe tobacco, anise, black pepper, and a slight cherry candy on the end. On the nose is confirmed along with good tannin structure that transitions well through the mid-palate with a hint of vanilla and a little unexpected heat. The tannins are supple and well integrated. A nice wine, but a bit steep at $53 a bottle.

My fourth red was 2008 Paraduxx “Blue Wing Teal” (68% Zinfandel, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc) The blend is only slightly different in percentages than the “Hooded Merganser” and yet the aroma and flavor profile is quite different. It is quite fragrant and fresh with blackberry jam, brown sugar, black currant and black licorice on the tail end. On the palate, I also picked up some black plum notes and a hint of sweet oak, with well integrated tannins and a hint of spice. I preferred this wine to the previous, yet it is $5 buck cheaper at $48 a bottle.

My final wine was the 2008 Reflection (56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Zinfandel). This wine reminds me of the original Paraduxx blend that I first tasted at Duckhorn Vineyards before the separate Paraduxx winery was created. Layers of currants, cola, dark chocolate, damp earth and a hint of herbs on the finish. The biggest wine in the line-up with tannins that definitely have a grip. A really nice wine, but a bit steep at $96 a bottle.

Overall, the Paraduxx wines were absolutely spectacular and the service was just splendid. Duckhorn Vineyards and Paraduxx are definitely in my top-ten list of “must visit” wineries in the Napa Valley.

To see more pictures of Parradux Wines, check out Erik Wait’s Wine Country Photography at:

For more information or to visit:

Paraduxx Winery

7257 Silverado Trail

Napa Valley, CA 94558

Phone: 1-866-367-9943; 1-707-945-0890