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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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  • Gundlach Bundschu Merlot 2018  Front Label
    Gundlach Bundschu Merlot 2018
    Merlot from Sonoma Valley, Sonoma County, California
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    • JD90
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  • Y. Rousseau Pepe Cavedale Vineyard Merlot 2018  Front Label
    Y. Rousseau Pepe Cavedale Vineyard Merlot 2018
    Merlot from Moon Mountain District, Sonoma Valley, Sonoma County, California
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    • St. Francis Reserve Merlot 2018  Front Label
      St. Francis Reserve Merlot 2018
      Merlot from Sonoma Valley, Sonoma County, California
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        Currently Unavailable $41.99
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      • Lava Cap Merlot 2018  Front Label
        Lava Cap Merlot 2018
        Merlot from El Dorado, Sierra Foothills, California
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        • Camp Merlot 2018  Front Label
          Camp Merlot 2018
          Merlot from Sonoma County, California
            4.1 5 Ratings
            Currently Unavailable $19.99
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          • Truchard Estate Merlot 2018  Front Label
            Truchard Estate Merlot 2018
            Merlot from Carneros, California
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              29 99
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            • Hendry Merlot 2018  Front Label
              Hendry Merlot 2018
              Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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                Currently Unavailable $37.99
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                37 99
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              • Brander Merlot 2018  Front Label
                Brander Merlot 2018
                Merlot from Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara, Central Coast, California
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                • Darioush Signature Merlot 2018  Front Label
                  Darioush Signature Merlot 2018
                  Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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                    Currently Unavailable $75.99
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