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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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  • Cakebread Merlot 2017  Front Label
    Cakebread Merlot 2017
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • V90
    4.9 13 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $66.99
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    66 99
    66 99
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  • Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot 2017  Front Label
    Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot 2017
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • WW93
    • JS92
    • W&S90
    • WE90
    • CG90
    4.4 159 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $52.99
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    52 99
    52 99
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  • Whitehall Lane Merlot 2017  Front Label
    Whitehall Lane Merlot 2017
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • WS93
    4.2 10 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $33.99
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    33 99
    33 99
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  • Silverado Mt. George Merlot 2017  Front Label
    Silverado Mt. George Merlot 2017
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • TP94
    • JS92
    0.0 0 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $37.99
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    37 99
    37 99
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  • Duckhorn Three Palms Merlot 2017  Front Label
    Duckhorn Three Palms Merlot 2017
    Merlot from Calistoga, Napa Valley, California
    • WS96
    • WW93
    • CG93
    • WE93
    • W&S92
    4.6 21 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $114.99
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    114 99
    114 99
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  • Markham Merlot 2017  Front Label
    Markham Merlot 2017
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
      4.1 144 Ratings
      Currently Unavailable $21.99
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      25
      21 99
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    • Charles Krug Napa Valley Merlot 2017  Front Label
      Charles Krug Napa Valley Merlot 2017
      Merlot from Napa Valley, California
        0.0 0 Ratings
        Currently Unavailable $23.99
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        23 99
        23 99
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      • Duckhorn Three Palms Merlot (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2017  Front Label
        Duckhorn Three Palms Merlot (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2017
        Merlot from Calistoga, Napa Valley, California
        • WS96
        • CG93
        • WW93
        • WE93
        • W&S92
        0.0 0 Ratings
        Currently Unavailable $209.00
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        209
        209
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      • Nickel & Nickel Bear Flat Merlot 2017  Front Label
        Nickel & Nickel Bear Flat Merlot 2017
        Merlot from Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley, California
          4.5 6 Ratings
          Currently Unavailable $64.99
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          64 99
          64 99
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        • GEN5 Merlot 2017  Front Label
          GEN5 Merlot 2017
          Merlot from Clarksburg, Yolo County, California
            4.0 20 Ratings
            Currently Unavailable $12.99
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            12 99
            12 99
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          • Stags' Leap Winery Merlot 2017  Front Label
            Stags' Leap Winery Merlot 2017
            Merlot from Napa Valley, California
              4.1 7 Ratings
              Currently Unavailable $39.99
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              39 99
              39 99
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            • Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Merlot 2017  Front Label
              Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Merlot 2017
              Merlot from Sonoma County, California
              • WW89
              3.7 12 Ratings
              Currently Unavailable $21.99
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              21 99
              21 99
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            • Annabella Merlot 2017  Front Label
              Annabella Merlot 2017
              Merlot from California
                0.0 0 Ratings
                Currently Unavailable $18.99
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                18 99
                18 99
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              • Oberon Merlot 2017 Front Label
                Oberon Merlot 2017
                Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                • WW89
                4.1 142 Ratings
                Currently Unavailable $21.99
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                23
                21 99
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              • Rodney Strong Sonoma Merlot 2017  Front Label
                Rodney Strong Sonoma Merlot 2017
                Merlot from Sonoma County, California
                  0.0 0 Ratings
                  Currently Unavailable $18.99
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                  18 99
                  18 99
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                • Greystone Cellars Merlot 2017 Front Label
                  Greystone Cellars Merlot 2017
                  Merlot from California
                    3.0 6 Ratings
                    Currently Unavailable $12.99
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                    12 99
                    12 99
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                  • Hall Napa Valley Merlot 2017  Front Label
                    Hall Napa Valley Merlot 2017
                    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                      0.0 0 Ratings
                      Currently Unavailable $41.99
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                      41 99
                      41 99
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                    • Murphy-Goode California Merlot 2017  Front Label
                      Murphy-Goode California Merlot 2017
                      Merlot from California
                        3.9 5 Ratings
                        Currently Unavailable $14.99
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                        14 99
                        14 99
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                      • Ferrari-Carano Merlot 2017  Front Label
                        Ferrari-Carano Merlot 2017
                        Merlot from Sonoma County, California
                          3.3 5 Ratings
                          Currently Unavailable $25.99
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                          25 99
                          25 99
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                        • Gainey Merlot 2017  Front Label
                          Gainey Merlot 2017
                          Merlot from Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara, Central Coast, California
                            0.0 0 Ratings
                            Currently Unavailable $19.99
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                            19 99
                            19 99
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                          • Keenan Napa Valley Merlot 2017  Front Label
                            Keenan Napa Valley Merlot 2017
                            Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                              0.0 0 Ratings
                              Currently Unavailable $52.99
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                              52 99
                              52 99
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                            • Nickel & Nickel Suscol Ranch Merlot 2017  Front Label
                              Nickel & Nickel Suscol Ranch Merlot 2017
                              Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                              • WW91
                              0.0 0 Ratings
                              Currently Unavailable $64.99
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                              64 99
                              64 99
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                            • La Jota Howell Mountain Merlot 2017  Front Label
                              La Jota Howell Mountain Merlot 2017
                              Merlot from Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, California
                              • RP94
                              0.0 0 Ratings
                              Currently Unavailable $89.99
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                              100
                              89 99
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                            • Barnett Vineyards Spring Mountain Merlot 2017  Front Label
                              Barnett Vineyards Spring Mountain Merlot 2017
                              Merlot from Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley, California
                              • WW92
                              • JD91
                              0.0 0 Ratings
                              Currently Unavailable $73.99
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                              73 99
                              73 99
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                            • Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Merlot 2017  Front Label
                              Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Merlot 2017
                              Merlot from Napa Valley, California
                                3.7 7 Ratings
                                Currently Unavailable $37.99
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                                37 99
                                37 99
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