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Merlot

An easy-going red variety with generous fruit and a supple texture...

An easy-going red variety with generous fruit and a supple texture, Merlot’s subtle tannins make it perfect for early drinking and allow it to pair with a wide range of foods. One simply needs to look to Bordeaux to understand Merlot's status as a noble variety. On the region’s Right Bank, it dominates in blends with Cabernet Franc, and on the Left Bank, it plays a supporting role to (and helps soften) Cabernet Sauvignon—in both cases resulting in some of the longest-lived and highest-quality wines in the world. They are often emulated elsewhere in Bordeaux-style blends, particularly in California’s Napa Valley, where Merlot also frequently shines on its own.

In the Glass

Merlot is known for its soft, silky texture and approachable flavors of ripe plum, red and black cherry, and raspberry. In a cool climate, you may find earthier notes alongside dried herbs, tobacco, and tar, while Merlot from warmer regions is generally more straightforward and fruit-focused.

Perfect Pairings

Lamb with Merlot is an ideal match—the sweetness of the meat picks up on the sweet fruit flavors of the wine to create a harmonious balance. Merlot’s gentle tannins allow for a hint of spice and its medium weight and bright acidity permit the possibilities of simple pizza or pasta with red sauce—overall, an extremely versatile food wine.

Sommelier Secret

Since the release of the 2004 film Sideways, Merlot's repuation has taken a big hit, and more than a decade later has yet to fully recover, though it is on its way. What many viewers didn't realize was that as much as Miles derided the variety, the prized wine of his collection—a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc—is made from a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

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  • Domaines Barons de Rothschild Legende Saint Emilion 2013
    Merlot from St. Emilion, Bordeaux, France
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    • Clos Pegase Mitsuko's Vineyard Merlot 2014
      Merlot from Carneros, California
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      • Swanson Napa Valley Merlot 2013
        Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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      • Wine Spots Napa Valley Merlot 2012
        Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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      • Rutherford Hill Merlot 2013
        Merlot from Napa Valley, California
        • TP93
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      • McIntyre Kimberly Vineyards Merlot 2014
        Merlot from Arroyo Seco, Monterey, Central Coast, California
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        • Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Merlot 2014
          Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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          • St. Francis Reserve Merlot 2014
            Merlot from Sonoma Valley, Sonoma County, California
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          • Twenty Rows Merlot 2014
            Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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            • Burgess Merlot 2013
              Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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              • St. Supery Rutherford Merlot 2013
                Merlot from Rutherford, Napa Valley, California
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              • Trefethen Merlot 2014
                Merlot from Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley, California
                • WW92
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              • Merryvale Merlot 2015
                Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                • WS91
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              • Whitehall Lane Merlot 2014
                Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                • WW91
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              • Hagafen Merlot 2012
                Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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                • Rubissow Merlot 2010
                  Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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                  • Silverado Mt. George Merlot 2013
                    Merlot from Coombsville, Napa Valley, California
                    • W&S90
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                  • Northstar Columbia Valley Merlot 2012
                    Merlot from Columbia Valley, Washington
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                    • RP91
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                  • St. Clement Merlot 2011
                    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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                    • J. Bookwalter Readers Merlot 2014
                      Merlot from Columbia Valley, Washington
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                    • Kenwood Jack London Vineyard Merlot 2013
                      Merlot from Sonoma Mountain, Sonoma County, California
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                      • Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Creek Vineyard Merlot 2012
                        Merlot from Columbia Valley, Washington
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                      • Smith Devereux Hanaiali'i Merlot 2015
                        Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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                        • Long Meadow Ranch Merlot 2013
                          Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                          • WW90
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                        • The Prisoner Wine Company Thorn Merlot 2014
                          Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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