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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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  • Beaulieu Vineyard BV Coastal Estates Merlot 2003 Front Label
    Beaulieu Vineyard BV Coastal Estates Merlot 2003
    Merlot from California
      0.0 0 Ratings
      Currently Unavailable $9.99
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      12 28
      9 99
      Save $2.30 (19%)
    • Sterling Napa Merlot 2003 Front Label
      Sterling Napa Merlot 2003
      Merlot from Napa Valley, California
        0.0 0 Ratings
        Currently Unavailable $29.99
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        29 99
        29 99
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      • Franciscan Estate Merlot 2003 Front Label
        Franciscan Estate Merlot 2003
        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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        • Gundlach Bundschu Merlot 2003 Front Label
          Gundlach Bundschu Merlot 2003
          Merlot from Sonoma County, California
            0.0 0 Ratings
            Currently Unavailable $32.99
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            32 99
            32 99
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          • Ironstone Merlot 2003 Front Label
            Ironstone Merlot 2003
            Merlot from California
              0.0 0 Ratings
              Currently Unavailable $8.99
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              10 79
              8 99
              Save $1.80 (17%)
            • Pride Mountain Vineyards Merlot 2003 Front Label
              Pride Mountain Vineyards Merlot 2003
              Merlot from North Coast, California
              • WS92
              • CG90
              0.0 0 Ratings
              Currently Unavailable $99.00
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              99
              99
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            • Camelot Merlot 2003 Front Label
              Camelot Merlot 2003
              Merlot from Central Coast, California
                0.0 0 Ratings
                Currently Unavailable $8.49
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                10 49
                8 49
                Save $2.00 (19%)
              • Mirassou Merlot 2003 Front Label
                Mirassou Merlot 2003
                Merlot from California
                  0.0 0 Ratings
                  Currently Unavailable $13.29
                  Try the 2019 Vintage 11 99
                  13 28
                  13 28
                  Save $0.00 (0%)
                • Canyon Road Merlot 2003 Front Label
                  Canyon Road Merlot 2003
                  Merlot from California
                    0.0 0 Ratings
                    Currently Unavailable $9.99
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                    9 99
                    9 99
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                  • Murphy-Goode Merlot 2003 Front Label
                    Murphy-Goode Merlot 2003
                    Merlot from Sonoma County, California
                      0.0 0 Ratings
                      Currently Unavailable $24.99
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                      24 99
                      24 99
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                    • Clos du Bois Merlot 2003 Front Label
                      Clos du Bois Merlot 2003
                      Merlot from Sonoma County, California
                      • WS87
                      0.0 0 Ratings
                      Currently Unavailable $19.49
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                      19 49
                      19 49
                      Save $0.00 (0%)
                    • Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Merlot 2003 Front Label
                      Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Merlot 2003
                      Merlot from California
                      • WE91
                      0.0 0 Ratings
                      Currently Unavailable $28.99
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                      29 99
                      28 99
                      Save $1.00 (3%)
                    • William Hill Napa Valley Merlot 2003 Front Label
                      William Hill Napa Valley Merlot 2003
                      Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                      • WE88
                      0.0 0 Ratings
                      Currently Unavailable $22.99
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                      22 99
                      22 99
                      Save $0.00 (0%)
                    • Sebastiani Merlot 2003 Front Label
                      Sebastiani Merlot 2003
                      Merlot from Sonoma County, California
                        0.0 0 Ratings
                        Currently Unavailable $18.29
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                        18 28
                        18 28
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                      • Robert Sinskey Merlot 2003 Front Label
                        Robert Sinskey Merlot 2003
                        Merlot from Carneros, California
                          0.0 0 Ratings
                          Currently Unavailable $34.99
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                          34 99
                          34 99
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                        • Benziger Merlot 2003 Front Label
                          Benziger Merlot 2003
                          Merlot from Sonoma County, California
                            0.0 0 Ratings
                            Currently Unavailable $18.29
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                            18 28
                            18 28
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                          • Jacuzzi Rosso di Sette Fratelli Merlot 2003 Front Label
                            Jacuzzi Rosso di Sette Fratelli Merlot 2003
                            Merlot from Carneros, California
                              0.0 0 Ratings
                              Currently Unavailable $12.29
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                              20
                              12 28
                              Save $7.71 (39%)
                            • Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Merlot 2003 Front Label
                              Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Merlot 2003
                              Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                                0.0 0 Ratings
                                Currently Unavailable $23.99
                                Try the 2018 Vintage 27 99
                                23 99
                                23 99
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                              • Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Merlot 2003 Front Label
                                Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Merlot 2003
                                Merlot from Sonoma County, California
                                  0.0 0 Ratings
                                  Currently Unavailable $25.99
                                  Try the 2017 Vintage 21 99
                                  28 99
                                  25 99
                                  Save $3.00 (10%)
                                • St. Francis Merlot 2003 Front Label
                                  St. Francis Merlot 2003
                                  Merlot from Sonoma County, California
                                  • WE87
                                  0.0 0 Ratings
                                  Currently Unavailable $15.99
                                  Try the 2018 Vintage 23 99
                                  22
                                  15 99
                                  Save $6.01 (27%)
                                • Grgich Hills Estate Merlot 2003 Front Label
                                  Grgich Hills Estate Merlot 2003
                                  Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                                    0.0 0 Ratings
                                    Currently Unavailable $49.99
                                    Try the 2017 Vintage 39 99
                                    49 99
                                    49 99
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                                  • Estancia Merlot 2003 Front Label
                                    Estancia Merlot 2003
                                    Merlot from Central Coast, California
                                      0.0 0 Ratings
                                      Currently Unavailable $13.79
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                                      13 79
                                      13 79
                                      Save $0.00 (0%)
                                    • Blackstone Napa Merlot 2003 Front Label
                                      Blackstone Napa Merlot 2003
                                      Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                                        0.0 0 Ratings
                                        Currently Unavailable $17.99
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                                        17 99
                                        17 99
                                        Save $0.00 (0%)
                                      • Rabbit Ridge CA Barrel Cuvee Merlot 2003 Front Label
                                        Rabbit Ridge CA Barrel Cuvee Merlot 2003
                                        Merlot from California
                                          0.0 0 Ratings
                                          Currently Unavailable $10.99
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                                          10 99
                                          10 99
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                                        • Delicato Merlot 2003 Front Label
                                          Delicato Merlot 2003
                                          Merlot from Central Coast, California
                                            0.0 0 Ratings
                                            Currently Unavailable $8.99
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                                            8 99
                                            8 99
                                            Save $0.00 (0%)
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