Learn about California Merlot, common tasting notes, defining characteristics and more ...
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.
- Cabernet Sauvignon1603
- Pinot Noir1244
- Other Red Blends464
- Bordeaux Red Blends433
- Petite Sirah193
- Rhône Blends185
- Cabernet Franc94
- Other Red Wine55
- Petit Verdot12
- Pinot Meunier3
- Alicante Bouschet1
Hourglass Blueline Vineyard Merlot 2010Merlot from Napa Valley, California
Buena Vista Sonoma Merlot 2010Merlot from Carneros, California
Pellegrini Merlot 2010Merlot from Sonoma County, California
Mirassou Merlot 2010Merlot from California
Westerly Merlot 2010Merlot from Central Coast, California
BV Century Cellars Merlot 2010Merlot from California
Duckhorn Rector Creek Vineyard Merlot 2010Merlot from Yountville, Napa Valley, California
Pahlmeyer Merlot 2010Merlot from Napa Valley, California
DeLoach Heritage Reserve Merlot 2010Merlot from Sonoma County, California
Frog's Leap Merlot (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2010Merlot from Rutherford, Napa Valley, California
Lava Cap Reserve Merlot 2010Merlot from El Dorado, Sierra Foothills, California
Tin Roof Merlot 2010Merlot from California
Wilson Daniels Merlot 2010Merlot from Central Coast, California
Parducci Small Lot Blend Merlot 2010Merlot from North Coast, California
Lyeth L de Lyeth Merlot 2010Merlot from Sonoma County, California
ONEHOPE California Merlot 2010Merlot from California