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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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  • Stephen Vincent Merlot 2012 Front Label
    Stephen Vincent Merlot 2012
    Merlot from Central Coast, California
      0.0 0 Ratings
      Currently Unavailable $15.99
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      15 99
      15 99
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    • Silverado Mt. George Merlot 2012 Front Label
      Silverado Mt. George Merlot 2012
      Merlot from Napa Valley, California
      • D93
      • WW90
      3.3 11 Ratings
      Currently Unavailable $36.99
      Try the 2017 Vintage 36 99
      36 99
      36 99
      Save $1.01 (3%)
    • Pahlmeyer Merlot 2012 Front Label
      Pahlmeyer Merlot 2012
      Merlot from Napa Valley, California
      • JS97
      • WS93
      • RP91
      4.3 6 Ratings
      Currently Unavailable $89.00
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      89
      89
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    • St. Supery Rutherford Merlot 2012 Front Label
      St. Supery Rutherford Merlot 2012
      Merlot from Rutherford, Napa Valley, California
      • WW92
      • WS90
      • WE90
      0.0 0 Ratings
      Currently Unavailable $47.99
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      47 99
      47 99
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    • Cakebread Merlot 2012 Front Label
      Cakebread Merlot 2012
      Merlot from Napa Valley, California
      • RP92
      4.6 6 Ratings
      Currently Unavailable $61.99
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      61 99
      61 99
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    • 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
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    • Two Vines California Merlot 2012 Front Label
      Two Vines California Merlot 2012
      Merlot from California
        4.2 8 Ratings
        Currently Unavailable $7.99
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        10
        7 99
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      • Lockwood Merlot 2012 Front Label
        Lockwood Merlot 2012
        Merlot from Monterey, Central Coast, California
          0.0 0 Ratings
          Currently Unavailable $11.99
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          14
          11 99
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        • 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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        • Clos Du Val Merlot 2012 Front Label
          Clos Du Val Merlot 2012
          Merlot from Napa Valley, California
          • JS91
          • WE90
          4.3 13 Ratings
          Currently Unavailable $25.99
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          35
          25 99
          Save $9.01 (26%)
        • The Prisoner Wine Company Thorn Merlot 2012 Front Label
          The Prisoner Wine Company Thorn Merlot 2012
          Merlot from Napa Valley, California
          • WW91
          4.2 11 Ratings
          Currently Unavailable $42.99
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          42 99
          42 99
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        • Emmolo Merlot 2012 Front Label
          Emmolo Merlot 2012
          Merlot from Napa Valley, California
          • WW95
          • RP92
          • TP92
          • JS91
          4.4 17 Ratings
          Currently Unavailable $59.99
          Try the 2018 Vintage 54 99
          59 99
          59 99
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        • Geyser Peak Merlot 2012 Front Label
          Geyser Peak Merlot 2012
          Merlot from California
            0.0 0 Ratings
            Currently Unavailable $17.99
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            17 99
            17 99
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          • Annabella Merlot 2012 Front Label
            Annabella Merlot 2012
            Merlot from Napa Valley, California
              0.0 0 Ratings
              Currently Unavailable $18.99
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              18 99
              18 99
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            • Estancia Merlot 2012 Front Label
              Estancia Merlot 2012
              Merlot from Central Coast, California
                0.0 0 Ratings
                Currently Unavailable $12.99
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                16
                12 99
                Save $3.01 (19%)
              • 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 $55.99
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                55 99
                55 99
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              • Stags' Leap Winery Merlot 2012 Front Bottle Shot
                Stags' Leap Winery Merlot 2012
                Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                  0.0 0 Ratings
                  Currently Unavailable $31.99
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                  33
                  31 99
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                • 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 $59.99
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                  59 99
                  59 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
                  4.2 27 Ratings
                  Currently Unavailable $57.99
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                  60
                  57 99
                  Save $2.01 (3%)
                • Chateau Souverain Merlot 2012 Front Label
                  Chateau Souverain Merlot 2012
                  Merlot from North Coast, California
                    0.0 0 Ratings
                    Currently Unavailable $16.99
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                    16 99
                    16 99
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                  • Brass Tacks Merlot 2012 Front Label
                    Brass Tacks Merlot 2012
                    Merlot from Central Coast, California
                    • WE89
                    • WW89
                    3.8 13 Ratings
                    Currently Unavailable $19.99
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                    19 99
                    19 99
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                  • Taft Street Alexander Valley Merlot 2012 Front Label
                    Taft Street Alexander Valley Merlot 2012
                    Merlot from Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California
                      0.0 0 Ratings
                      Currently Unavailable $15.99
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                      20
                      15 99
                      Save $4.01 (20%)
                    • Miner Family Stagecoach Vineyard Merlot 2012 Front Label
                      Miner Family Stagecoach Vineyard Merlot 2012
                      Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                        0.0 0 Ratings
                        Currently Unavailable $41.99
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                        46
                        41 99
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                      • 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
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                        31 99
                        31 99
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                      • BV Century Cellars Merlot 2012 Front Label
                        BV Century Cellars Merlot 2012
                        Merlot from California
                          4.0 7 Ratings
                          Currently Unavailable $8.99
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                          8 99
                          8 99
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