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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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  • Smoking Loon Merlot 2002 Front Label
    Smoking Loon Merlot 2002
    Merlot from California
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      Currently Unavailable $13.99
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      13 99
      13 99
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    • Snob Hill Winery Le Snoot 2002 Merlot 2002 Front Label
      Snob Hill Winery Le Snoot Merlot 2002
      Merlot from North Coast, California
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        Currently Unavailable $13.99
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        13 99
        13 99
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      • Alexander Valley Vineyards Merlot 2002 Front Label
        Alexander Valley Vineyards Merlot 2002
        Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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          Currently Unavailable $19.99
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          19 99
          19 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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            Currently Unavailable $11.99
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            11 99
            11 99
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          • DeLoach California Merlot 2002 Front Label
            DeLoach California Merlot 2002
            Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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              Currently Unavailable $14.99
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              14 99
              14 99
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            • Turning Leaf Coastal Reserve Merlot 2002 Front Label
              Turning Leaf Coastal Reserve Merlot 2002
              Merlot from California
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                Currently Unavailable $14.99
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                14 99
                14 99
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              • Rodney Strong Sonoma Merlot 2002 Front Label
                Rodney Strong Sonoma Merlot 2002
                Merlot from Sonoma County, California
                • WE87
                0.0 0 Ratings
                Currently Unavailable $19.99
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                19 99
                19 99
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              • Pahlmeyer Merlot 2002  Front Label
                Pahlmeyer Merlot 2002
                Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                • RP95
                • WS91
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                Currently Unavailable $104.97
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                104 97
                104 97
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              • Stone Cellars Merlot 2002 Front Label
                Stone Cellars 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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                • Rabbit Ridge CA Barrel Cuvee Merlot 2002 Front Label
                  Rabbit Ridge CA Barrel Cuvee Merlot 2002
                  Merlot from California
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                    Currently Unavailable $14.99
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                    14 99
                    14 99
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                  • Robert Mondavi Private Selection Merlot 2002 Front Label
                    Robert Mondavi Private Selection Merlot 2002
                    Merlot from Central Coast, California
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                      Currently Unavailable $14.99
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                      14 99
                      14 99
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                    • Napa Ridge Merlot 2002
                      Merlot from California
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                        Currently Unavailable $10.99
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                        10 99
                        10 99
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                      • CK Mondavi Merlot 2002 Front Label
                        CK Mondavi Merlot 2002
                        Merlot from California
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                          Currently Unavailable $10.99
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                          10 99
                          10 99
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                        • Stonestreet Merlot 2002 Front Label
                          Stonestreet Merlot 2002
                          Merlot from Sonoma County, California
                            3.4 5 Ratings
                            Currently Unavailable $26.99
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                            26 99
                            26 99
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                          • Provenance Vineyards Carneros Merlot 2002 Front Label
                            Provenance Vineyards Carneros Merlot 2002
                            Merlot from Carneros, California
                              0.0 0 Ratings
                              Currently Unavailable $35.99
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                              35 99
                              35 99
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                            • Raymond Amberhill Merlot 2002 Front Label
                              Raymond Amberhill Merlot 2002
                              Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                                0.0 0 Ratings
                                Currently Unavailable $17.99
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                                17 99
                                17 99
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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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                                Currently Unavailable $19.99
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                                19 99
                                19 99
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                              • Wente Merlot 2002 Front Label
                                Wente Merlot 2002
                                Merlot from Central Coast, California
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                                  Currently Unavailable $13.99
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                                  13 99
                                  13 99
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                                • RH Phillips Merlot 2002 Front Label
                                  RH Phillips Merlot 2002
                                  Merlot from California
                                    0.0 0 Ratings
                                    Currently Unavailable $28.99
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                                    28 99
                                    28 99
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                                  • Oberon Merlot 2002 Front Label
                                    Oberon Merlot 2002
                                    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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                                      Currently Unavailable $19.99
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                                      19 99
                                      19 99
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                                    • St. Francis Merlot 2002 Front Label
                                      St. Francis Merlot 2002
                                      Merlot from Sonoma County, California
                                        0.0 0 Ratings
                                        Currently Unavailable $22.99
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                                        22 99
                                        22 99
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                                      • Pepi Merlot 2002 Front Label
                                        Pepi Merlot 2002
                                        Merlot from California
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                                          Currently Unavailable $14.99
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                                          14 99
                                          14 99
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                                        • Firestone Merlot 2002
                                          Merlot from Central Coast, California
                                            0.0 0 Ratings
                                            Currently Unavailable $17.99
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                                            17 99
                                            17 99
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                                          • Mia's Playground Dry Creek Valley Merlot 2002 Front Label
                                            Mia's Playground Dry Creek Valley Merlot 2002
                                            Merlot from Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, California
                                              0.0 0 Ratings
                                              Currently Unavailable $15.99
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                                              15 99
                                              15 99
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                                            • Blackstone California Merlot (half-bottle) 2002 Front Label
                                              Blackstone California Merlot (half-bottle) 2002
                                              Merlot from California
                                                0.0 0 Ratings
                                                Currently Unavailable $10.99
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                                                10 99
                                                10 99
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