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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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  • Silverado Mt. George Merlot 2012 Front Label
    Silverado Mt. George Merlot 2012
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • D93
    • WW90
    3.2 10 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $37.99
    Try the 2016 Vintage 39 99
    37 99
    37 99
    Save $0.00 (0%)
  • Geyser Peak Merlot 2012 Front Label
    Geyser Peak Merlot 2012
    Merlot from California
      0.0 0 Ratings
      Currently Unavailable $13.98
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      18
      13 98
      Save $4.02 (22%)
    • Grieve Family Winery Merlot 2012 Front Label
      Grieve Family Winery Merlot 2012
      Merlot from Napa Valley, California
      • WE93
      0.0 0 Ratings
      Currently Unavailable $58.99
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      90
      58 99
      Save $31.01 (34%)
    • Benziger Merlot 2012 Front Label
      Benziger Merlot 2012
      Merlot from Sonoma County, California
        0.0 0 Ratings
        Currently Unavailable $15.98
        Try the 2017 Vintage 17 99
        15 98
        15 98
        Save $0.00 (0%)
      • Wine Spots Napa Valley Merlot 2012 Front Label
        Wine Spots Napa Valley Merlot 2012
        Merlot from Napa Valley, California
        • WW90
        4.0 16 Ratings
        Currently Unavailable $49.99
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        49 99
        49 99
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      • Annabella Merlot 2012 Front Label
        Annabella Merlot 2012
        Merlot from Napa Valley, California
          0.0 0 Ratings
          Currently Unavailable $15.99
          Try the 2017 Vintage 18 99
          19
          15 99
          Save $3.01 (16%)
        • Clos du Bois Alexander Valley Reserve Merlot 2012 Front Label
          Clos du Bois Alexander Valley Reserve Merlot 2012
          Merlot from Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California
            0.0 0 Ratings
            Currently Unavailable $26.99
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            26 99
            26 99
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          • Clos Du Val Merlot 2012 Front Label
            Clos Du Val Merlot 2012
            Merlot from Napa Valley, California
            • JS91
            • WE90
            4.2 12 Ratings
            Currently Unavailable $28.99
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            35
            28 99
            Save $6.01 (17%)
          • Waterstone Merlot 2012 Front Label
            Waterstone Merlot 2012
            Merlot from Napa Valley, California
            • JS90
            0.0 0 Ratings
            Currently Unavailable $17.99
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            17 99
            17 99
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          • Twomey Cellars by Silver Oak Merlot 2012 Front Label
            Twomey Cellars by Silver Oak Merlot 2012
            Merlot from Napa Valley, California
            • WE92
            • WW90
            4.3 24 Ratings
            Currently Unavailable $64.99
            Try the 2015 Vintage 67 99
            64 99
            64 99
            Save $0.00 (0%)
          • Emmolo Merlot 2012 Front Label
            Emmolo Merlot 2012
            Merlot from Napa Valley, California
            • WW95
            • RP92
            • TP92
            • JS91
            4.3 16 Ratings
            Currently Unavailable $59.99
            Try the 2018 Vintage 53 99
            59 99
            59 99
            Save $0.00 (0%)
          • Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot 2012 Front Label
            Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot 2012
            Merlot from Napa Valley, California
            • WW91
            • WE91
            • TP91
            • JS90
            • WS90
            4.2 26 Ratings
            Currently Unavailable $48.99
            Try the 2017 Vintage 49 99
            54
            48 99
            Save $5.01 (9%)
          • Shafer Napa Valley Merlot 2012 Front Label
            Shafer Napa Valley Merlot 2012
            Merlot from Napa Valley, California
            • RP95
            • WS92
            4.5 11 Ratings
            Currently Unavailable $54.99
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            54 99
            54 99
            Save $0.00 (0%)
          • Marilyn Napa Valley Merlot 2012 Front Label
            Marilyn Napa Valley Merlot 2012
            Merlot from Napa Valley, California
              0.0 0 Ratings
              Currently Unavailable $32.99
              Try the 2017 Vintage 29 99
              32 99
              32 99
              Save $0.00 (0%)
            • Frei Brothers Reserve Merlot 2012 Front Label
              Frei Brothers Reserve Merlot 2012
              Merlot from Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, California
                0.0 0 Ratings
                Currently Unavailable $16.99
                Try the 2018 Vintage 17 99
                20
                16 99
                Save $3.01 (15%)
              • BV Century Cellars Merlot 2012 Front Label
                BV Century Cellars Merlot 2012
                Merlot from California
                  4.0 7 Ratings
                  Currently Unavailable $11.99
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                  11 99
                  11 99
                  Save $0.00 (0%)
                • Swanson Napa Valley Merlot 2012 Front Label
                  Swanson Napa Valley Merlot 2012
                  Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                  • RP92
                  • WS90
                  3.9 11 Ratings
                  Currently Unavailable $29.99
                  Try the 2017 Vintage 29 99
                  38
                  29 99
                  Save $8.01 (21%)
                • Longboard DaKine Vineyard Merlot 2012 Front Label
                  Longboard DaKine Vineyard Merlot 2012
                  Merlot from Russian River, Sonoma County, California
                    0.0 0 Ratings
                    Currently Unavailable $29.99
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                    29 99
                    29 99
                    Save $0.00 (0%)
                  • St. Francis Merlot 2012 Front Label
                    St. Francis Merlot 2012
                    Merlot from Sonoma Valley, Sonoma County, California
                      0.0 0 Ratings
                      Currently Unavailable $17.99
                      Try the 2017 Vintage 21 99
                      20
                      17 99
                      Save $2.01 (10%)
                    • Irony Napa Valley Merlot 2012 Front Label
                      Irony Napa Valley Merlot 2012
                      Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                        0.0 0 Ratings
                        Currently Unavailable $21.99
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                        21 99
                        21 99
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                      • Lava Cap Reserve Merlot 2012 Front Label
                        Lava Cap Reserve Merlot 2012
                        Merlot from El Dorado, Sierra Foothills, California
                          0.0 0 Ratings
                          Currently Unavailable $23.98
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                          23 98
                          23 98
                          Save $0.00 (0%)
                        • Frog's Leap Merlot 2012 Front Label
                          Frog's Leap Merlot 2012
                          Merlot from Rutherford, Napa Valley, California
                          • W&S92
                          4.2 5 Ratings
                          Currently Unavailable $44.99
                          Try the 2017 Vintage 41 99
                          44 99
                          44 99
                          Save $0.00 (0%)
                        • Rubissow Merlot 2012 Front Label
                          Rubissow Merlot 2012
                          Merlot from Mt. Veeder, Napa Valley, California
                            0.0 0 Ratings
                            Currently Unavailable $79.99
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                            79 99
                            79 99
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                          • Chateau Souverain Merlot 2012 Front Label
                            Chateau Souverain Merlot 2012
                            Merlot from North Coast, California
                              0.0 0 Ratings
                              Currently Unavailable $16.99
                              Try the 2018 Vintage 11 99
                              16 99
                              16 99
                              Save $0.00 (0%)
                            • Raymond Reserve Selection Merlot 2012 Front Label
                              Raymond Reserve Selection Merlot 2012
                              Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                              • WW91
                              3.7 5 Ratings
                              Currently Unavailable $31.99
                              Try the
                              31 99
                              31 99
                              Save $0.00 (0%)
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