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Why a Duck? No questions with Paraduxx

July 26, 2012

In the 1929 Marx Brothers classic “The Cocoanuts,” one of the film’s touchstone scenes involves Groucho trying to patiently explain to the hapless Chico the purpose of a viaduct in connecting an island to the mainland. “I don’t get it,” Chico says. “Why a duck?”

The phrase, immediately familiar to legions of Marx Brothers fans, is born from the same kind of wordplay that led to the naming of Paraduxx, one of the brands produced by Napa Valley’s Duckhorn Wine Co. But winemaker David Marchesi has a different kind of fun with his enological malapropism, and recent pair of Paraduxx releases illustrates why he a growing master at the art of the blend.

The 2009 Paraduxx C Blend ($48), draws heavily from various estate vineyards of Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel, several of them from higher elevations on the Napa Valley’s Howell Mountain. The individual grape lots, especially those from the Candlestick Ridge and Stout vineyards, add a wild brambly note to the Cabernet-led wine, Marchesi says. The fruit-forward blend opens with boysenberry and vanilla on the nose, finishing with plum, black cherry and other complex flavors on the palate and a great deal of finesse.

Marchesi switches the emphasis in the 2009 Paraduxx Z Blend ($48), which allows Zinfandel to take the lead supported strongly by Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine draws on Zinfendel’s rustic, spicier nature, adding a dash of black pepper to the red fruits that come forward on the palate. Full-bodied, yet smooth and almost silky, the wine’s excellent balance allows both grapes to express their best attributes.

Duckhorn also hosts the Migration line of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines, and the 2010 Migration Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($30) is worthy of note.  Winemaker Neil Bernardi has created a delightfully crisp and appropriately acidic white wine, with a long and rich mouthfeel. Aromas of pineapple and pear give way to a palate of nectarine and tangerine, with an essence of toast and a hint of crème brulee. It’s a subtle, rich and refined wine.

Why a duck? Why not a Paraduxx, or even a Migration? The result will be an entire flock of flavors and some pleasurable wine-drinking moments. No joke.

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