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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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  • Clos Du Val Merlot 1997
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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      29 99
      29 99
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    • Arrowood Reserve Merlot 1997 Front Label
      Arrowood Reserve Merlot 1997
      Merlot from Sonoma County, California
      • WS90
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      Currently Unavailable $54.97
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      54 97
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    • Pride Mountain Vineyards Merlot 1997 Front Label
      Pride Mountain Vineyards Merlot 1997
      Merlot from North Coast, California
      • RP93
      • WS92
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      94 97
      94 97
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    • Sonoma Creek Sangiacomo Vineyard Merlot 1997
      Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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        40 99
        37 99
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      • Blackstone Napa Merlot (half-bottle) 1997
        Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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          11 99
          11 99
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        • Kunde Merlot 1997 Front Label
          Kunde Merlot 1997
          Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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            19 99
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          • Camelot Merlot 1997 Front Label
            Camelot Merlot 1997
            Merlot from Central Coast, California
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              14 99
              14 99
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            • Callaway Barrel Select Merlot 1997 Front Label
              Callaway Barrel Select Merlot 1997
              Merlot from California
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                15 99
                15 99
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              • Ballentine Merlot 1997 Front Label
                Ballentine Merlot 1997
                Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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                  21 49
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                • Pine Ridge Carneros Merlot 1997 Front Label
                  Pine Ridge Carneros Merlot 1997
                  Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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                    Currently Unavailable $48.99
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                    48 99
                    48 99
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                  • Dom. St. George Barrel Reserve Merlot 1997 Front Label
                    Dom. St. George Barrel Reserve Merlot 1997
                    Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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                      Currently Unavailable $15.99
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                      15 99
                      15 99
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                    • Raymond Amberhill Merlot 1997 Front Label
                      Raymond Amberhill Merlot 1997
                      Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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                        Currently Unavailable $17.99
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                        17 99
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                      • Bernardus Merlot 1997 Front Label
                        Bernardus Merlot 1997
                        Merlot from California
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                          38 99
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                        • Kenwood Sonoma County Merlot 1997 Front Label
                          Kenwood Sonoma County Merlot 1997
                          Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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                            Currently Unavailable $21.99
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                            21 99
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                          • Firestone Reserve Merlot 1997
                            Merlot from Central Coast, California
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                              Currently Unavailable $27.49
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                              27 49
                              27 49
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                            • Stags' Leap Winery Merlot 1997 Front Label
                              Stags' Leap Winery Merlot 1997
                              Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                              • WE91
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                              Currently Unavailable $34.99
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                              34 99
                              34 99
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                            • Gundlach Bundschu Merlot 1997 Front Label
                              Gundlach Bundschu Merlot 1997
                              Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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                                27 99
                                27 99
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                              • Chalk Hill Merlot 1997
                                Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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                                  Currently Unavailable $50.49
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                                  56 49
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                                • Rodney Strong Alexander Valley Merlot 1997
                                  Merlot from Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California
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                                    Currently Unavailable $31.99
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                                    31 99
                                    31 99
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                                  • Benziger Merlot Reserve 1997 Front Label
                                    Benziger Merlot Reserve 1997
                                    Merlot from Sonoma County, California
                                    • WE91
                                    • WS90
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                                    Currently Unavailable $37.79
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                                    41 99
                                    37 79
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                                  • Pahlmeyer Merlot 1997 Front Label
                                    Pahlmeyer Merlot 1997
                                    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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                                      Currently Unavailable $125.00
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                                      125
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                                    • Raymond Reserve Selection Merlot 1997 Front Label
                                      Raymond Reserve Selection Merlot 1997
                                      Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                                      • WE89
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                                      Currently Unavailable $26.09
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                                      28 99
                                      26 09
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                                    • Stonestreet Alexander Valley Merlot (half-bottle) 1997
                                      Merlot from Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California
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                                        Currently Unavailable $20.49
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                                        20 49
                                        20 49
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                                      • Buena Vista Carneros Merlot 1997
                                        Merlot from Carneros, California
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                                          Currently Unavailable $22.49
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                                          22 49
                                          22 49
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                                        • Beringer Howell Mtn. Bancroft Ranch Merlot (loose capsules) 1997 Front Label
                                          Beringer Howell Mtn. Bancroft Ranch Merlot (loose capsules) 1997
                                          Merlot from Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, California
                                          • WS93
                                          • RP92
                                          • WE91
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                                          Currently Unavailable $64.99
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                                          75
                                          64 99
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