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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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  • Pride Mountain Vineyards Vintner Select Merlot 2009 Front Label
    Pride Mountain Vineyards Vintner Select Merlot 2009
    Merlot from Sonoma County, California
    • RP95
    • WS92
    • WE90
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    Currently Unavailable $139.97
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    139 97
    139 97
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  • Summercloud Merlot 2009 Front Label
    Summercloud Merlot 2009
    Merlot from Mendocino, California
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    • Switchback Ridge Peterson Family Vineyard Merlot 2009 Front Label
      Switchback Ridge Peterson Family Vineyard Merlot 2009
      Merlot from Napa Valley, California
      • WS94
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      55 99
      55 99
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    • Mt. Brave Merlot 2009 Front Label
      Mt. Brave Merlot 2009
      Merlot from Mt. Veeder, Napa Valley, California
      • WE93
      • RP92
      • W&S92
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      Currently Unavailable $74.99
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      74 99
      74 99
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    • O'Shaughnessy Howell Mountain Merlot 2009 Front Label
      O'Shaughnessy Howell Mountain Merlot 2009
      Merlot from Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, California
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        Currently Unavailable $99.00
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        99
        99
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      • Shafer Napa Valley Merlot (375ML half-bottle) 2009 Front Label
        Shafer Napa Valley Merlot (375ML half-bottle) 2009
        Merlot from Napa Valley, California
        • RP90
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        Currently Unavailable $25.99
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        25 99
        25 99
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      • Pride Mountain Vineyards Merlot (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2009 Front Label
        Pride Mountain Vineyards Merlot (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2009
        Merlot from North Coast, California
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          Currently Unavailable $179.97
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          179 97
          179 97
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        • Formidable Merlot 2009 Front Label
          Formidable Merlot 2009
          Merlot from Mendocino, California
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            Currently Unavailable $16.99
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            24
            16 99
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          • Keenan Reserve Merlot 2009 Front Label
            Keenan Reserve Merlot 2009
            Merlot from Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley, California
            • RP92
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            Currently Unavailable $74.99
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            74 99
            74 99
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          • Lambert Bridge Merlot 2009 Front Label
            Lambert Bridge Merlot 2009
            Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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              Currently Unavailable $49.97
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              60
              49 97
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