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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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  • Matanzas Creek Sonoma County Merlot 2002 Front Label
    Matanzas Creek Sonoma County Merlot 2002
    Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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      24 99
      24 99
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    • Pride Mountain Vineyards Merlot 2002 Front Bottle Shot
      Pride Mountain Vineyards Merlot 2002
      Merlot from North Coast, California
      • WS93
      • WE93
      • W&S93
      • RP90
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      Currently Unavailable $59.99
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      59 99
      59 99
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    • Echelon Merlot (1.5 Liter) 2002 Front Label
      Echelon Merlot (1.5 Liter) 2002
      Merlot from Central Coast, California
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        44 99
        24 99
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      • Franciscan Estate Merlot 2002 Front Label
        Franciscan Estate Merlot 2002
        Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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          26 99
          19 99
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        • Atalon Merlot 2002 Front Label
          Atalon Merlot 2002
          Merlot from Napa Valley, California
          • RP89
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          28 99
          28 99
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        • Dog House Maxie's Merlot 2002 Front Label
          Dog House Maxie's Merlot 2002
          Merlot from California
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            Currently Unavailable $9.99
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            9 99
            9 99
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          • Etude Napa Valley Merlot 2002 Front Label
            Etude Napa Valley Merlot 2002
            Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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              Currently Unavailable $39.99
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              39 99
              39 99
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            • St. Clement Merlot 2002 Front Label
              St. Clement Merlot 2002
              Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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                22 99
                22 99
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              • Chateau St. Jean Merlot 2002 Front Label
                Chateau St. Jean Merlot 2002
                Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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                  22 99
                  22 99
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                • Paloma Spring Mountain Merlot 2002 Front Label
                  Paloma Spring Mountain Merlot 2002
                  Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                  • WE94
                  • WS93
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                  79 97
                  79 97
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                • Flora Springs Estate Merlot 2002 Front Label
                  Flora Springs Estate Merlot 2002
                  Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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                    Currently Unavailable $23.99
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                    23 99
                    23 99
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                  • Rutherford Hill Merlot 2002 Front Label
                    Rutherford Hill Merlot 2002
                    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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                      Currently Unavailable $25.99
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                    • Echelon Merlot 2002 Front Label
                      Echelon Merlot 2002
                      Merlot from Central Coast, California
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                        Currently Unavailable $10.29
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                        12 28
                        10 28
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                      • Joseph Phelps Napa Valley Merlot 2002 Front Label
                        Joseph Phelps Napa Valley Merlot 2002
                        Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                        • WE92
                        • WS91
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                        Currently Unavailable $41.97
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                        41 97
                        41 97
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                      • Flora Springs Merlot 2002 Front Label
                        Flora Springs Merlot 2002
                        Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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                          22 99
                          19 99
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                        • Cakebread Merlot 2002 Front Label
                          Cakebread Merlot 2002
                          Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                          • WE91
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                          59 99
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                        • Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Merlot 2002 Front Label
                          Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Merlot 2002
                          Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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                          • Leaping Horse Merlot 2002 Front Label
                            Leaping Horse Merlot 2002
                            Merlot from California
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                              Currently Unavailable $7.99
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                              10 99
                              7 99
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                            • Clos du Bois Merlot 2002 Front Label
                              Clos du Bois Merlot 2002
                              Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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                                16 99
                                13 99
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                              • Sterling Reserve Merlot 2002 Front Label
                                Sterling Reserve Merlot 2002
                                Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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                                  Currently Unavailable $44.99
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                                  44 99
                                  44 99
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                                • Pepi Merlot 2002 Front Label
                                  Pepi Merlot 2002
                                  Merlot from California
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                                    Currently Unavailable $8.99
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                                    12 99
                                    8 99
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                                  • Blackstone Napa Merlot (half-bottle) 2002 Front Label
                                    Blackstone Napa Merlot (half-bottle) 2002
                                    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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                                    • Clos LaChance Central Coast Merlot 2002 Front Label
                                      Clos LaChance Central Coast Merlot 2002
                                      Merlot from Central Coast, California
                                      • W&S88
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                                      19 79
                                      19 79
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                                    • Canyon Road Merlot 2002 Front Label
                                      Canyon Road Merlot 2002
                                      Merlot from California
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                                        7 99
                                        7 99
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                                      • Papio wines Merlot 2002 Front Label
                                        Papio wines Merlot 2002
                                        Merlot from California
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                                          Currently Unavailable $9.99
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                                          9 99
                                          9 99
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