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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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  • Twomey Cellars by Silver Oak Merlot 2010 Front Label
    Twomey Cellars by Silver Oak Merlot 2010
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • WW91
    4.3 8 Ratings
    Price per bottle
    Currently Unavailable $49.99
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    58
    49 99
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  • Frog's Leap Merlot (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2010 Front Label
    Frog's Leap Merlot (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2010
    Merlot from Rutherford, Napa Valley, California
    • W&S93
    0.0 0 Ratings
    Price per bottle
    Currently Unavailable $76.00
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    76
    76
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  • Rutherford Ranch Merlot 2010 Front Label
    Rutherford Ranch Merlot 2010
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
      0.0 0 Ratings
      Price per bottle
      Currently Unavailable $19.99
      Try the 2018 Vintage 25 99
      19 99
      19 99
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    • Benziger Merlot 2010 Front Label
      Benziger Merlot 2010
      Merlot from Sonoma County, California
        0.0 0 Ratings
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        Currently Unavailable $21.99
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        21 99
        21 99
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      • Kapcsandy Family Winery State Lane Vineyard Roberta's Reserve 2010 Front Label
        Kapcsandy Family Winery State Lane Vineyard Roberta's Reserve 2010
        Merlot from Yountville, Napa Valley, California
        • RP97
        0.0 0 Ratings
        Price per bottle
        Currently Unavailable $419.00
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        419
        419
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      • Frog's Leap Merlot 2010 Front Label
        Frog's Leap Merlot 2010
        Merlot from Rutherford, Napa Valley, California
        • W&S93
        0.0 0 Ratings
        Price per bottle
        Currently Unavailable $39.99
        Try the 2018 Vintage 39 99
        39 99
        39 99
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      • Hall Napa Valley Merlot 2010 Front Label
        Hall Napa Valley Merlot 2010
        Merlot from Napa Valley, California
          0.0 0 Ratings
          Price per bottle
          Currently Unavailable $24.99
          Try the 2018 Vintage 41 99
          30
          24 99
          Save $5.01 (17%)
        • Twomey Cellars by Silver Oak Merlot (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2010 Front Label
          Twomey Cellars by Silver Oak Merlot (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2010
          Merlot from Napa Valley, California
          • WW91
          0.0 0 Ratings
          Price per bottle
          Currently Unavailable $109.00
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          109
          109
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        • Grgich Hills Estate Merlot 2010 Front Label
          Grgich Hills Estate Merlot 2010
          Merlot from Napa Valley, California
          • TP95
          • WW92
          0.0 0 Ratings
          Price per bottle
          Currently Unavailable $49.99
          Try the 2017 Vintage 39 99
          49 99
          49 99
          Save $0.00 (0%)
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