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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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33 Items
  • Cakebread Merlot 2016  Front Label
    Cakebread Merlot 2016
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • RP92
    4.8 93 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $74.99
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    74 99
    74 99
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  • La Jota Howell Mountain Merlot 2016  Front Label
    La Jota Howell Mountain Merlot 2016
    Merlot from Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, California
    • JD96
    • WS95
    • RP94
    • JS94
    4.7 11 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $89.99
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    89 99
    89 99
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  • Gundlach Bundschu Merlot 2016  Front Label
    Gundlach Bundschu Merlot 2016
    Merlot from Sonoma Valley, Sonoma County, California
    • JS93
    • JD90
    4.5 15 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $37.99
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    37 99
    37 99
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  • Stags' Leap Winery Merlot 2016 Front Label
    Stags' Leap Winery Merlot 2016
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • JS93
    4.2 55 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $32.99
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    32 99
    32 99
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  • The Prisoner Wine Company Thorn Merlot 2016  Front Label
    The Prisoner Wine Company Thorn Merlot 2016
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • WW94
    4.3 24 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $39.99
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    45
    39 99
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  • Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Merlot 2016  Front Label
    Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Merlot 2016
    Merlot from Sonoma County, California
    • WE90
    4.0 26 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $21.99
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    21 99
    21 99
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  • Rutherford Hill Merlot 2016  Front Label
    Rutherford Hill Merlot 2016
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • JS92
    3.5 6 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $27.99
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    32
    27 99
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  • Smoking Loon Merlot 2016 Front Label
    Smoking Loon Merlot 2016
    Merlot from California
      0.0 0 Ratings
      Currently Unavailable $9.99
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      9 99
      9 99
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    • Trentadue La Storia Merlot 2016  Front Label
      Trentadue La Storia Merlot 2016
      Merlot from Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California
      • WW90
      4.4 5 Ratings
      Currently Unavailable $26.99
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      26 99
      26 99
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    • Darioush Signature Merlot 2016 Front Label
      Darioush Signature Merlot 2016
      Merlot from Napa Valley, California
      • JS93
      • WS92
      • WE92
      4.0 5 Ratings
      Currently Unavailable $49.99
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      60
      49 99
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    • Silverado Mt. George Merlot 2016  Front Label
      Silverado Mt. George Merlot 2016
      Merlot from Napa Valley, California
      • TP94
      • W&S92
      • WW91
      4.2 16 Ratings
      Currently Unavailable $39.99
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      39 99
      39 99
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    • Ghost Pines Merlot 2016 Front Label
      Ghost Pines Merlot 2016
      Merlot from North Coast, California
        4.3 15 Ratings
        Currently Unavailable $18.99
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        18 99
        18 99
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      • Merryvale Merlot 2016  Front Label
        Merryvale Merlot 2016
        Merlot from Napa Valley, California
          4.9 6 Ratings
          Currently Unavailable $48.99
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          48 99
          48 99
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        • Mt. Brave Merlot 2016  Front Label
          Mt. Brave Merlot 2016
          Merlot from Mt. Veeder, Napa Valley, California
          • WS94
          0.0 0 Ratings
          Currently Unavailable $94.99
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          94 99
          94 99
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        • Flora Springs Napa Valley Merlot 2016 Front Label
          Flora Springs Napa Valley Merlot 2016
          Merlot from Napa Valley, California
          • TP92
          • WE90
          4.5 18 Ratings
          Currently Unavailable $29.99
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          35
          29 99
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        • Wild Horse Merlot 2016 Front Label
          Wild Horse Merlot 2016
          Merlot from Central Coast, California
            0.0 0 Ratings
            Currently Unavailable $18.99
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            18 99
            18 99
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          • Provenance Vineyards Napa Valley Merlot 2016 Front Label
            Provenance Vineyards Napa Valley Merlot 2016
            Merlot from Napa Valley, California
            • JS92
            • RP90
            • WE90
            4.1 19 Ratings
            Currently Unavailable $33.99
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            40
            33 99
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          • Leese-Fitch Merlot 2016  Front Label
            Leese-Fitch Merlot 2016
            Merlot from California
              3.9 11 Ratings
              Currently Unavailable $10.99
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              12
              10 99
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            • Rodney Strong Sonoma Merlot 2016  Front Label
              Rodney Strong Sonoma Merlot 2016
              Merlot from Sonoma County, California
                0.0 0 Ratings
                Currently Unavailable $14.99
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                14 99
                14 99
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              • Nickel & Nickel Harris Vineyard Merlot 2016  Front Label
                Nickel & Nickel Harris Vineyard Merlot 2016
                Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                • WS92
                0.0 0 Ratings
                Currently Unavailable $64.99
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                64 99
                64 99
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              • Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot (375ML half-bottle) 2016  Front Label
                Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot (375ML half-bottle) 2016
                Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                • JS92
                • WW91
                • WE91
                • W&S90
                • WS90
                • CG90
                3.9 5 Ratings
                Currently Unavailable $28.99
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                28 99
                28 99
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              • Acre Merlot 2016  Front Label
                Acre Merlot 2016
                Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                  0.0 0 Ratings
                  Currently Unavailable $32.99
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                  32 99
                  32 99
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                • Whitehall Lane Merlot 2016  Front Label
                  Whitehall Lane Merlot 2016
                  Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                  • WE91
                  • WS90
                  • JS90
                  4.5 16 Ratings
                  Currently Unavailable $27.99
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                  32
                  27 99
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                • Kenwood Sonoma County Merlot 2016  Front Label
                  Kenwood Sonoma County Merlot 2016
                  Merlot from Sonoma County, California
                    3.8 7 Ratings
                    Currently Unavailable $12.99
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                    16
                    12 99
                    Save $3.01 (19%)
                  • Peju Province Merlot 2016 Front Label
                    Peju Province Merlot 2016
                    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                      0.0 0 Ratings
                      Currently Unavailable $51.99
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                      51 99
                      51 99
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