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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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166 Items
  • 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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    • Pride Mountain Vineyards Merlot 1997 Front Label
      Pride Mountain Vineyards Merlot 1997
      Merlot from North Coast, California
      • RP93
      • WS92
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      Currently Unavailable $69.99
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      69 99
      69 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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        15 99
        15 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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        • 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
            17 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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            • Firestone Reserve Merlot 1997
              Merlot from Central Coast, California
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                27 49
                27 49
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              • Bernardus Merlot 1997 Front Label
                Bernardus Merlot 1997
                Merlot from California
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                  38 99
                  38 99
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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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                  • Gundlach Bundschu Merlot 1997 Front Label
                    Gundlach Bundschu Merlot 1997
                    Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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                      Currently Unavailable $27.99
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                      27 99
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                    • Chalk Hill Merlot 1997
                      Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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                        56 49
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                      • Sebastiani Sonoma Cask Merlot 1997 Front Label
                        Sebastiani Sonoma Cask Merlot 1997
                        Merlot from Sonoma County, California
                        • WS88
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                        Currently Unavailable $17.09
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                        18 99
                        17 09
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                      • St. Francis Reserve Merlot 1997
                        Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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                          Currently Unavailable $34.99
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                          34 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
                          54 97
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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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                        • Beringer Bancroft Ranch Merlot Private Reserve 1997 Front Label
                          Beringer Bancroft Ranch Merlot Private Reserve 1997
                          Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                          • RP92
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                          64 97
                          64 97
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                        • Kendall-Jackson Buckeye Vineyard Merlot 1997
                          Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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                            Currently Unavailable $29.99
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                            29 99
                            29 99
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                          • Matanzas Creek Sonoma County Merlot 1997  Front Label
                            Matanzas Creek Sonoma County Merlot 1997
                            Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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                              Currently Unavailable $49.97
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                              49 97
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                            • Sterling Merlot Estate Bottled (half-bottle) 1997
                              Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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                                Currently Unavailable $13.99
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                                13 99
                                13 99
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                              • Wild Horse Paso Robles Merlot 1997 Front Label
                                Wild Horse Paso Robles Merlot 1997
                                Merlot from Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
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                                  Currently Unavailable $11.99
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                                  11 99
                                  11 99
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                                • Clos du Bois Merlot (half-bottle) 1997
                                  Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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                                    11 99
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                                  • Callaway Merlot 1997 Front Label
                                    Callaway Merlot 1997
                                    Merlot from California
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                                      13 49
                                      11 99
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                                    • Turning Leaf Merlot 1997 Front Label
                                      Turning Leaf Merlot 1997
                                      Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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                                        Currently Unavailable $11.49
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                                        12 49
                                        11 49
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                                      • Meridian Merlot 1997 Front Label
                                        Meridian Merlot 1997
                                        Merlot from Central Coast, California
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                                          16 99
                                          14 99
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                                        • Wente Crane Ridge Merlot 1997 Front Label
                                          Wente Crane Ridge Merlot 1997
                                          Merlot from Central Coast, California
                                          • WS86
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                                          Currently Unavailable $14.99
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                                          14 99
                                          14 99
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