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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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19 Items
19 Items
  • Pahlmeyer Merlot 2012 Front Label
    Pahlmeyer Merlot 2012
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • JS97
    • WS93
    • RP91
    4.2 5 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $89.97
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    89 97
    89 97
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  • Darioush Signature Merlot 2012 Front Label
    Darioush Signature Merlot 2012
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • WS92
    • WW92
    • CG91
    0.0 0 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $57.99
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    57 99
    57 99
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  • Frog's Leap Merlot (375ML half-bottle) 2012 Front Label
    Frog's Leap Merlot (375ML half-bottle) 2012
    Merlot from Rutherford, Napa Valley, California
    • W&S92
    0.0 0 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $16.99
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    16 99
    16 99
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  • Switchback Ridge Peterson Family Vineyard Merlot 2012 Front Label
    Switchback Ridge Peterson Family Vineyard Merlot 2012
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • RP95
    • WS92
    • JS90
    0.0 0 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $69.97
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    69 97
    69 97
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  • Paloma Spring Mountain Merlot 2012 Front Label
    Paloma Spring Mountain Merlot 2012
    Merlot from Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley, California
      0.0 0 Ratings
      Currently Unavailable $59.97
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      59 97
      59 97
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    • Duckhorn Three Palms Merlot (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2012 Front Label
      Duckhorn Three Palms Merlot (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2012
      Merlot from Calistoga, Napa Valley, California
      • CG96
      • WE93
      • WW93
      • JS92
      5.0 7 Ratings
      Currently Unavailable $189.97
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      200
      189 97
      Save $10.03 (5%)
    • Pride Mountain Vineyards Merlot 2012 Front Label
      Pride Mountain Vineyards Merlot 2012
      Merlot from North Coast, California
      • WE91
      • RP90
      0.0 0 Ratings
      Currently Unavailable $57.99
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      57 99
      57 99
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    • La Jota Howell Mountain Merlot 2012 Front Label
      La Jota Howell Mountain Merlot 2012
      Merlot from Napa Valley, California
      • RP92
      0.0 0 Ratings
      Currently Unavailable $99.99
      Try the 2017 Vintage 89 99
      99 99
      99 99
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    • Duckhorn Three Palms Merlot 2012 Front Label
      Duckhorn Three Palms Merlot 2012
      Merlot from Calistoga, Napa Valley, California
      • CG96
      • WW93
      • WE93
      • JS92
      0.0 0 Ratings
      Currently Unavailable $90.99
      Try the 2017 Vintage 114 99
      90 99
      90 99
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    • Shafer Napa Valley Merlot (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2012 Front Label
      Shafer Napa Valley Merlot (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2012
      Merlot from Napa Valley, California
      • RP95
      • WS92
      0.0 0 Ratings
      Currently Unavailable $119.00
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      119
      119
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    • Outpost Immigrant True Vineyard Merlot 2012 Front Label
      Outpost Immigrant True Vineyard Merlot 2012
      Merlot from Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, California
        0.0 0 Ratings
        Currently Unavailable $115.00
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        115
        115
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      • Robert Foley Vineyards Merlot 2012 Front Label
        Robert Foley Vineyards Merlot 2012
        Merlot from Napa Valley, California
        • WS93
        • RP93
        0.0 0 Ratings
        Currently Unavailable $59.97
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        59 97
        59 97
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      • Pahlmeyer Merlot (1.5 Liter Magnum)  2012 Front Label
        Pahlmeyer Merlot (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2012
        Merlot from Napa Valley, California
        • JS97
        • WS93
        • RP91
        0.0 0 Ratings
        Currently Unavailable $145.00
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        145
        145
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      • Alpha Omega Merlot 2012 Front Label
        Alpha Omega Merlot 2012
        Merlot from Napa Valley, California
          0.0 0 Ratings
          Currently Unavailable $44.97
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          44 97
          44 97
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        • Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot (3 Liter Bottle) 2012 Front Label
          Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot (3 Liter Bottle) 2012
          Merlot from Napa Valley, California
          • WW91
          • WE91
          • TP91
          • WS90
          • JS90
          0.0 0 Ratings
          Currently Unavailable $209.00
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          209
          209
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        • Kapcsandy Family Winery State Lane Vineyard Roberta's Reserve 2012 Front Label
          Kapcsandy Family Winery State Lane Vineyard Roberta's Reserve 2012
          Merlot from Napa Valley, California
          • RP98
          • JS98
          • WS93
          0.0 0 Ratings
          Currently Unavailable $299.99
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          345
          299 99
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        • Keenan Mailbox Vineyard Spring Mountain Reserve Merlot 2012  Front Label
          Keenan Mailbox Vineyard Spring Mountain Reserve Merlot 2012
          Merlot from Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley, California
          • RP94
          0.0 0 Ratings
          Currently Unavailable $79.99
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          79 99
          79 99
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        • Keenan Mailbox Vineyard Spring Mountain Reserve Merlot (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2012  Front Label
          Keenan Mailbox Vineyard Spring Mountain Reserve Merlot (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2012
          Merlot from Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley, California
            0.0 0 Ratings
            Currently Unavailable $149.97
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            149 97
            149 97
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          • Beringer Howell Mountain Bancroft Ranch Merlot 2012 Front Label
            Beringer Howell Mountain Bancroft Ranch Merlot 2012
            Merlot from Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, California
            • WS92
            • RP90
            4.6 8 Ratings
            Currently Unavailable $59.99
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            75
            59 99
            Save $15.01 (20%)
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