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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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  • Beringer Howell Mountain Bancroft Ranch Merlot 1994 Front Label
    Beringer Howell Mountain Bancroft Ranch Merlot 1994
    Merlot from Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, California
    • RP92
    • WS90
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    Currently Unavailable $64.99
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    64 99
    64 99
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  • Markham Reserve Merlot 1994  Front Label
    Markham Reserve Merlot 1994
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • WS91
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    Currently Unavailable $57.99
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    57 99
    57 99
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  • Kenwood Massara Merlot 1994
    Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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      Currently Unavailable $20.49
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      20 49
      20 49
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    • Sterling Winery Lake Vineyard Merlot 1994 Front Label
      Sterling Winery Lake Vineyard Merlot 1994
      Merlot from Carneros, California
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        Currently Unavailable $20.49
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        21 99
        20 49
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      • Chalk Hill Merlot 1994
        Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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          Currently Unavailable $50.99
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          50 99
          50 99
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        • Duckhorn Merlot Howell Mountain 1994 Front Label
          Duckhorn Merlot Howell Mountain 1994
          Merlot from Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, California
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            Currently Unavailable $51.99
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            51 99
            51 99
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          • Arrowood Merlot 1994 Front Label
            Arrowood Merlot 1994
            Merlot from Sonoma County, California
            • RP90
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            Currently Unavailable $55.99
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            55 99
            55 99
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          • Duckhorn Merlot Howell Mountain (1.5 Liter Magnum) 1994 Front Label
            Duckhorn Merlot Howell Mountain (1.5 Liter Magnum) 1994
            Merlot from Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, California
              0.0 0 Ratings
              Currently Unavailable $125.00
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              125
              125
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            • Beringer Bancroft Ranch Merlot 1994 Front Label
              Beringer Bancroft Ranch Merlot 1994
              Merlot from Napa Valley, California
              • WS90
              0.0 0 Ratings
              Currently Unavailable $67.97
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              67 97
              67 97
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            • Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot 1994 Front Label
              Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot 1994
              Merlot from Napa Valley, California
              • WS90
              0.0 0 Ratings
              Currently Unavailable $106.99
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              106 99
              106 99
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            • Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot (1.5 Liter Magnum) 1994 Front Label
              Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot (1.5 Liter Magnum) 1994
              Merlot from Napa Valley, California
              • WS90
              0.0 0 Ratings
              Currently Unavailable $129.00
              Try the 2014 Vintage 135 97
              129
              129
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            • Corbett Canyon Merlot 1994 Front Label
              Corbett Canyon Merlot 1994
              Merlot from California
                0.0 0 Ratings
                Currently Unavailable $3.99
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                3 99
                3 99
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