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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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  • Kapcsandy Family Winery State Lane Vineyard Roberta's Reserve 2006 Front Label
    Kapcsandy Family Winery State Lane Vineyard Roberta's Reserve 2006
    Merlot from Yountville, Napa Valley, California
    • RP96
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    Price per bottle
    Currently Unavailable $184.97
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    184 97
    184 97
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  • Darioush Signature Merlot 2006 Front Label
    Darioush Signature Merlot 2006
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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      Currently Unavailable $54.97
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      54 97
      54 97
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    • Schweiger Vineyards Merlot 2006 Front Label
      Schweiger Vineyards Merlot 2006
      Merlot from Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley, California
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        Currently Unavailable $44.97
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        44 97
        44 97
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      • Shafer Napa Valley Merlot (375ML half-bottle) 2006 Front Label
        Shafer Napa Valley Merlot (375ML half-bottle) 2006
        Merlot from Napa Valley, California
        • WE95
        • CG92
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        Currently Unavailable $21.99
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        21 99
        21 99
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      • Selene Frediani Merlot 2006 Front Label
        Selene Frediani Merlot 2006
        Merlot from Napa Valley, California
        • WS91
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        Currently Unavailable $32.99
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        32 99
        32 99
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      • Pride Mountain Vineyards Vintner Select Merlot 2006 Front Label
        Pride Mountain Vineyards Vintner Select Merlot 2006
        Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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          Currently Unavailable $85.00
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          85
          85
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        • David Arthur Estate Merlot 2006  Front Label
          David Arthur Estate Merlot 2006
          Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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            Currently Unavailable $49.97
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            49 97
            49 97
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          • Shafer Napa Valley Merlot 2006 Front Label
            Shafer Napa Valley Merlot 2006
            Merlot from Napa Valley, California
            • WE95
            • CG92
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            Currently Unavailable $42.99
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            45
            42 99
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          • JAQK Cellars Black Clover Napa Merlot 2006 Front Label
            JAQK Cellars Black Clover Napa Merlot 2006
            Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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              Currently Unavailable $33.89
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              47 99
              33 89
              Save $14.10 (29%)
            • JAQK Cellars Bone Dance Merlot 2006 Front Label
              JAQK Cellars Bone Dance Merlot 2006
              Merlot from California
                0.0 0 Ratings
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                Currently Unavailable $19.99
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                28 99
                19 99
                Save $9.00 (31%)
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