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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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  • Chateau St. Jean Merlot 2002 Front Label
    Chateau St. Jean Merlot 2002
    Merlot from Sonoma County, California
      0.0 0 Ratings
      Currently Unavailable $27.99
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      27 99
      27 99
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    • Pride Mountain Vineyards Merlot 2002 Front Bottle Shot
      Pride Mountain Vineyards Merlot 2002
      Merlot from North Coast, California
      • WS93
      • WE93
      • W&S93
      • RP90
      0.0 0 Ratings
      Currently Unavailable $59.99
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      59 99
      59 99
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    • Rutherford Hill Merlot 2002 Front Label
      Rutherford Hill Merlot 2002
      Merlot from Napa Valley, California
        0.0 0 Ratings
        Currently Unavailable $25.99
        Try the 2018 Vintage 28 99
        25 99
        25 99
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      • Camelot Merlot 2002 Front Label
        Camelot Merlot 2002
        Merlot from Central Coast, California
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          Currently Unavailable $14.99
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          14 99
          14 99
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        • Fisher Vineyards RCF Vineyard Merlot 2002 Front Label
          Fisher Vineyards RCF Vineyard Merlot 2002
          Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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            Currently Unavailable $69.97
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            69 97
            69 97
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          • Dog House Maxie's Merlot 2002 Front Label
            Dog House Maxie's Merlot 2002
            Merlot from California
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              Currently Unavailable $11.99
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              11 99
              11 99
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            • Matanzas Creek Sonoma County Merlot 2002 Front Label
              Matanzas Creek Sonoma County Merlot 2002
              Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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                Currently Unavailable $24.99
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                24 99
                24 99
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              • Flora Springs Estate Merlot 2002 Front Label
                Flora Springs Estate Merlot 2002
                Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                  0.0 0 Ratings
                  Currently Unavailable $23.99
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                  23 99
                  23 99
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                • Joseph Phelps Napa Valley Merlot 2002 Front Label
                  Joseph Phelps Napa Valley Merlot 2002
                  Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                  • WE92
                  • WS91
                  4.0 5 Ratings
                  Currently Unavailable $46.99
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                  46 99
                  46 99
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                • Flora Springs Merlot 2002 Front Label
                  Flora Springs Merlot 2002
                  Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                    0.0 0 Ratings
                    Currently Unavailable $19.99
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                    22 99
                    19 99
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                  • Atalon Merlot 2002 Front Label
                    Atalon Merlot 2002
                    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                    • RP89
                    0.0 0 Ratings
                    Currently Unavailable $28.99
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                    28 99
                    28 99
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                  • Leaping Horse Merlot 2002 Front Label
                    Leaping Horse Merlot 2002
                    Merlot from California
                      0.0 0 Ratings
                      Currently Unavailable $7.99
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                      10 99
                      7 99
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                    • Sterling Reserve Merlot 2002 Front Label
                      Sterling Reserve Merlot 2002
                      Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                        0.0 0 Ratings
                        Currently Unavailable $44.99
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                        44 99
                        44 99
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                      • Del Dotto Merlot 2002  Front Label
                        Del Dotto Merlot 2002
                        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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                        • Paul Hobbs Michael Black Vineyard Merlot 2002  Front Label
                          Paul Hobbs Michael Black Vineyard Merlot 2002
                          Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                          • WS93
                          • RP93
                          0.0 0 Ratings
                          Currently Unavailable $79.97
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                          79 97
                          79 97
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                        • Paloma Spring Mountain Merlot 2002 Front Label
                          Paloma Spring Mountain Merlot 2002
                          Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                          • WE94
                          • WS93
                          0.0 0 Ratings
                          Currently Unavailable $79.97
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                          79 97
                          79 97
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                        • Bonterra Organically Grown Merlot 2002 Front Label
                          Bonterra Organically Grown Merlot 2002
                          Merlot from North Coast, California
                          • WE90
                          0.0 0 Ratings
                          Currently Unavailable $17.99
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                          17 99
                          17 99
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                        • Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Merlot 2002 Front Label
                          Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Merlot 2002
                          Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                            0.0 0 Ratings
                            Currently Unavailable $32.99
                            Try the 2017 Vintage 37 99
                            32 99
                            32 99
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                          • Clos du Bois Merlot 2002 Front Label
                            Clos du Bois Merlot 2002
                            Merlot from Sonoma County, California
                              0.0 0 Ratings
                              Currently Unavailable $16.99
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                              16 99
                              16 99
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                            • Etude Napa Valley Merlot 2002 Front Label
                              Etude Napa Valley Merlot 2002
                              Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                                0.0 0 Ratings
                                Currently Unavailable $39.99
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                                39 99
                                39 99
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                              • Papio wines Merlot 2002 Front Label
                                Papio wines Merlot 2002
                                Merlot from California
                                  0.0 0 Ratings
                                  Currently Unavailable $9.99
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                                  9 99
                                  9 99
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                                • Beringer Founders' Estate Merlot 2002 Front Label
                                  Beringer Founders' Estate Merlot 2002
                                  Merlot from California
                                    0.0 0 Ratings
                                    Currently Unavailable $14.99
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                                    14 99
                                    14 99
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                                  • Clos du Bois Alexander Valley Reserve Merlot 2002 Front Label
                                    Clos du Bois Alexander Valley Reserve Merlot 2002
                                    Merlot from Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California
                                    • W&S92
                                    0.0 0 Ratings
                                    Currently Unavailable $24.99
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                                    24 99
                                    24 99
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                                  • Smoking Loon Merlot 2002 Front Label
                                    Smoking Loon Merlot 2002
                                    Merlot from California
                                      0.0 0 Ratings
                                      Currently Unavailable $13.99
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                                      13 99
                                      13 99
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                                    • Alexander Valley Vineyards Merlot 2002 Front Label
                                      Alexander Valley Vineyards Merlot 2002
                                      Merlot from Sonoma County, California
                                        0.0 0 Ratings
                                        Currently Unavailable $19.99
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                                        19 99
                                        19 99
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