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California Merlot

Learn about California Merlot, common tasting notes, defining characteristics and more ...

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Today the fourth most widely planted red variety in the state, Merlot has much to offer. While it bears similarities to Cabernet Sauvignon (its half-sibling), it tends to be lower in both acidity and tannins, giving Merlot wines a mouthfeel that is often perceived as soft, round and plush. These qualities make it an ideal blending partner for Cabernet, the two complementing each other throughout.

Merlot arrived relatively late to the California wine scene. It wasn’t until the 1970’s when producers like Louis Martini, Sterling and Matanzas Creek—influenced by European Merlot blends—began crafting single varietal versions. These trend-setting bottles opened the eyes of others in the California wine scene and spurred increased plantings. From there, the variety’s lush drinkability led to a surge in popularity, then overplanting (some of it on unsuitable sites) and finally a backlash that was turbo-charged by the infamous 2004 film, Sideways. What most 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 with Cabernet Franc.

Fine examples of California Merlot—either as a single varietal wine or as part of a blend—can be found from Napa Valley, Sonoma County, the Central Coast and most regions around the state. Merlot wines offer a ripe, sensual mouthful of plummy fruit, suggestions of mint, herbs and vanilla, all carried along by an approachable structure and often, a great potential for improving with age.

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133 Items
133 Items
  • Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot 2017  Front Label
    Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot 2017
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • WW93
    • JS92
    4.7 40 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $49.99
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    56
    49 99
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  • Cakebread Merlot 2016  Front Label
    Cakebread Merlot 2016
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • RP92
    4.8 94 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $74.99
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    74 99
    74 99
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  • Stone Cellars Merlot 2015  Front Label
    Stone Cellars Merlot 2015
    Merlot from California
      3.5 43 Ratings
      Currently Unavailable $6.99
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      6 99
      6 99
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    • Wente Sandstone Merlot 2017  Front Label
      Wente Sandstone Merlot 2017
      Merlot from Livermore Valley, Central Coast, California
        4.6 19 Ratings
        Currently Unavailable $13.99
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        20
        13 99
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      • Decoy Merlot 2018  Front Label
        Decoy Merlot 2018
        Merlot from Sonoma County, California
          4.2 76 Ratings
          Currently Unavailable $20.99
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          20 99
          20 99
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        • La Jota Howell Mountain Merlot 2016  Front Label
          La Jota Howell Mountain Merlot 2016
          Merlot from Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, California
          • JD96
          • WS95
          • RP94
          • JS94
          4.7 11 Ratings
          Currently Unavailable $89.99
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          89 99
          89 99
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        • The Prisoner Wine Company Thorn Merlot 2016  Front Label
          The Prisoner Wine Company Thorn Merlot 2016
          Merlot from Napa Valley, California
          • WW94
          4.2 27 Ratings
          Currently Unavailable $39.99
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          45
          39 99
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        • Bogle Merlot 2017  Front Label
          Bogle Merlot 2017
          Merlot from California
            4.0 91 Ratings
            Currently Unavailable $9.99
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            9 99
            9 99
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          • Sterling Napa Merlot 2015 Front Label
            Sterling Napa Merlot 2015
            Merlot from Napa Valley, California
            • JS91
            4.3 29 Ratings
            Currently Unavailable $22.99
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            22 99
            22 99
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          • Duckhorn Three Palms Merlot 2017  Front Label
            Duckhorn Three Palms Merlot 2017
            Merlot from Calistoga, Napa Valley, California
            • WW93
            4.7 5 Ratings
            Currently Unavailable $99.99
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            99 99
            99 99
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          • Merryvale Merlot 2016  Front Label
            Merryvale Merlot 2016
            Merlot from Napa Valley, California
              4.9 6 Ratings
              Currently Unavailable $48.99
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              48 99
              48 99
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            • Josh Cellars Merlot 2018  Front Label
              Josh Cellars Merlot 2018
              Merlot from California
                4.0 32 Ratings
                Currently Unavailable $14.99
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                14 99
                14 99
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              • Emmolo Merlot 2018  Front Label
                Emmolo Merlot 2018
                Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                • WW92
                4.7 12 Ratings
                Currently Unavailable $53.99
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                60
                53 99
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              • Gundlach Bundschu Merlot 2016  Front Label
                Gundlach Bundschu Merlot 2016
                Merlot from Sonoma Valley, Sonoma County, California
                • JS93
                • JD90
                4.5 15 Ratings
                Currently Unavailable $37.99
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                37 99
                37 99
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              • Oberon Merlot 2017 Front Label
                Oberon Merlot 2017
                Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                • WW89
                4.1 95 Ratings
                Currently Unavailable $21.99
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                23
                21 99
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              • Spellbound Merlot 2017  Front Label
                Spellbound Merlot 2017
                Merlot from California
                  0.0 0 Ratings
                  Currently Unavailable $15.99
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                  15 99
                  15 99
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                • Markham Merlot 2017  Front Label
                  Markham Merlot 2017
                  Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                    4.2 13 Ratings
                    Currently Unavailable $21.99
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                    25
                    21 99
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                  • Stags' Leap Winery Merlot 2016 Front Label
                    Stags' Leap Winery Merlot 2016
                    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                    • JS93
                    4.2 57 Ratings
                    Currently Unavailable $32.99
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                    32 99
                    32 99
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                  • Parcel 41 Merlot 2017  Front Label
                    Parcel 41 Merlot 2017
                    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                      5.0 7 Ratings
                      Currently Unavailable $19.99
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                      19 99
                      19 99
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                    • Frog's Leap Merlot 2017  Front Label
                      Frog's Leap Merlot 2017
                      Merlot from Rutherford, Napa Valley, California
                        4.2 12 Ratings
                        Currently Unavailable $41.99
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                        41 99
                        41 99
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                      • Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Merlot 2016  Front Label
                        Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Merlot 2016
                        Merlot from Sonoma County, California
                        • WE90
                        4.0 29 Ratings
                        Currently Unavailable $21.99
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                        21 99
                        21 99
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                      • Camp Merlot 2018  Front Label
                        Camp Merlot 2018
                        Merlot from Sonoma County, California
                          0.0 0 Ratings
                          Currently Unavailable $19.99
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                          19 99
                          19 99
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                        • Twomey Cellars by Silver Oak Merlot 2015  Front Label
                          Twomey Cellars by Silver Oak Merlot 2015
                          Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                            0.0 0 Ratings
                            Currently Unavailable $67.99
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                            67 99
                            67 99
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                          • GEN5 Merlot 2017  Front Label
                            GEN5 Merlot 2017
                            Merlot from Clarksburg, Yolo County, California
                              4.5 14 Ratings
                              Currently Unavailable $12.99
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                              12 99
                              12 99
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                            • Nickel & Nickel Bear Flat Merlot 2017  Front Label
                              Nickel & Nickel Bear Flat Merlot 2017
                              Merlot from Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley, California
                                0.0 0 Ratings
                                Currently Unavailable $64.99
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                                64 99
                                64 99
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