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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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  • Arrowood Merlot 1996 Front Label
    Arrowood Merlot 1996
    Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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    • Trefethen Estate Merlot 1996 Front Label
      Trefethen Estate Merlot 1996
      Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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        Currently Unavailable $26.99
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        26 99
        26 99
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      • Ravenswood Sangiacomo Merlot 1996 Front Label
        Ravenswood Sangiacomo Merlot 1996
        Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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        • Ravenswood Donnell Ranch Merlot 1996 Front Label
          Ravenswood Donnell Ranch Merlot 1996
          Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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            Currently Unavailable $37.99
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          • Mirassou Family Selection Merlot 1996 Front Label
            Mirassou Family Selection Merlot 1996
            Merlot from Central Coast, California
            • WE85
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            Currently Unavailable $15.99
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            15 99
            15 99
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          • Pahlmeyer Merlot 1996 Front Label
            Pahlmeyer Merlot 1996
            Merlot from Napa Valley, California
            • RP97
            • WS92
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            Currently Unavailable $125.00
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            125
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          • Beringer Howell Mountain Bancroft Ranch Merlot 1996 Front Label
            Beringer Howell Mountain Bancroft Ranch Merlot 1996
            Merlot from Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, California
            • WE92
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            Currently Unavailable $91.99
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            129 99
            91 99
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          • Stonestreet Alexander Valley Merlot (half-bottle) 1996
            Merlot from Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California
            • WE88
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            Currently Unavailable $19.99
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            21 99
            19 99
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          • Louis Martini Merlot (half-bottle) 1996
            Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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              Currently Unavailable $7.99
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              7 99
              7 99
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            • Louis Martini Reserve Merlot 1996
              Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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                19 97
                19 97
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              • CK Mondavi Merlot 1996
                Merlot from California
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                  Currently Unavailable $10.99
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                  10 99
                  10 99
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                • Merryvale Reserve Merlot (half-bottle) 1996
                  Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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                    Currently Unavailable $21.99
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                    21 99
                    21 99
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                  • Forest Glen Barrel Select Merlot (half-bottle) 1996
                    Merlot from California
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                      Currently Unavailable $8.99
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                      8 99
                      8 99
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                    • Callaway Merlot 1996 Front Label
                      Callaway Merlot 1996
                      Merlot from California
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                        Currently Unavailable $13.99
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                        13 99
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                      • Rutherford Hill Merlot (375ML half-bottle) 1996 Front Label
                        Rutherford Hill Merlot (375ML half-bottle) 1996
                        Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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                          Currently Unavailable $10.99
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                          10 99
                          10 99
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                        • Silverado Merlot 1996
                          Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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                            Currently Unavailable $26.99
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                            26 99
                            26 99
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                          • Ballentine Merlot 1996 Front Label
                            Ballentine Merlot 1996
                            Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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                              Currently Unavailable $20.49
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                              20 49
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                            • Kunde Merlot (1.5 Liter Magnum) 1996  Front Label
                              Kunde Merlot (1.5 Liter Magnum) 1996
                              Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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                                Currently Unavailable $39.97
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                                39 97
                                39 97
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                              • Mirassou Harvest Reserve Merlot 1996 Front Label
                                Mirassou Harvest Reserve Merlot 1996
                                Merlot from Central Coast, California
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                                  Currently Unavailable $17.49
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                                  17 49
                                  17 49
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                                • Pine Ridge Carneros Merlot 1996 Front Label
                                  Pine Ridge Carneros Merlot 1996
                                  Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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                                    Currently Unavailable $35.99
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                                    35 99
                                    35 99
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                                  • Sterling Merlot (1.5 L) 1996
                                    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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                                      Currently Unavailable $39.99
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                                      43 99
                                      39 99
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                                    • Stonestreet Alexander Valley Merlot 1996 Front Label
                                      Stonestreet Alexander Valley Merlot 1996
                                      Merlot from Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California
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                                        Currently Unavailable $33.99
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                                        33 99
                                        33 99
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                                      • Camelot Merlot 1996 Front Label
                                        Camelot Merlot 1996
                                        Merlot from Central Coast, California
                                        • WE86
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                                        Currently Unavailable $14.99
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                                        14 99
                                        14 99
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                                      • Bernardus Merlot 1996 Front Label
                                        Bernardus Merlot 1996
                                        Merlot from California
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                                          Currently Unavailable $31.99
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                                          33 99
                                          31 99
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                                        • Kenwood Estate Merlot 1996 Front Label
                                          Kenwood Estate Merlot 1996
                                          Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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                                            Currently Unavailable $20.99
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                                            20 99
                                            20 99
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