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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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54 Items
  • 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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      37 99
      37 99
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    • Ravenswood Sangiacomo Merlot 1996 Front Label
      Ravenswood Sangiacomo Merlot 1996
      Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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        Currently Unavailable $39.99
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        39 99
        39 99
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      • Pahlmeyer Merlot 1996 Front Label
        Pahlmeyer Merlot 1996
        Merlot from Napa Valley, California
        • RP97
        • WS92
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        125
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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
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        • Louis Martini Reserve Merlot 1996
          Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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            19 97
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          • Ballentine Merlot 1996 Front Label
            Ballentine Merlot 1996
            Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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              21 49
              19 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 $13.99
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              14 99
              13 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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              • CK Mondavi Merlot 1996
                Merlot from California
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                  Currently Unavailable $10.99
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                  10 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
                    13 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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                    • Rutherford Hill Merlot (half-bottle) 1996 Front Label
                      Rutherford Hill Merlot (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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                      • Beaulieu Vineyard Napa Valley Merlot 1996 Front Label
                        Beaulieu Vineyard Napa Valley Merlot 1996
                        Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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                          Currently Unavailable $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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                          • Fetzer Reserve Merlot 1996
                            Merlot from California
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                              Currently Unavailable $44.99
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                              44 99
                              44 99
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                            • Baron Herzog Merlot (OU Kosher) 1996
                              Merlot from California
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                                Currently Unavailable $15.99
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                                15 99
                                15 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 $10.49
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                                12 39
                                10 49
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                              • Buena Vista Carneros Merlot 1996 Front Label
                                Buena Vista Carneros Merlot 1996
                                Merlot from Carneros, California
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                                  Currently Unavailable $26.49
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                                  26 49
                                  26 49
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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 $26.49
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                                    28 49
                                    26 49
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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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                                    • 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 $37.99
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                                        40 99
                                        37 99
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                                      • Robert Mondavi Napa Merlot 1996 Front Label
                                        Robert Mondavi Napa Merlot 1996
                                        Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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                                          Currently Unavailable $29.99
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                                          33 49
                                          29 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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                                          • Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Merlot 1996 Front Label
                                            Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Merlot 1996
                                            Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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                                              Currently Unavailable $29.49
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                                              29 49
                                              29 49
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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 $13.99
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                                                16 49
                                                13 99
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