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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 2016  Front Label
    Silverado Mt. George Merlot 2016
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • TP94
    • W&S92
    • WE92
    • WW91
    4.2 71 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $35.99
    Try the 2017 Vintage 37 99
    40
    35 99
    Save $4.01 (10%)
  • Duckhorn Three Palms Merlot 2016 Front Label
    Duckhorn Three Palms Merlot 2016
    Merlot from Calistoga, Napa Valley, California
    • WE94
    • JS94
    • WS93
    • CG93
    • W&S90
    4.5 30 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $94.99
    Try the 2017 Vintage 119 99
    110
    94 99
    Save $15.01 (14%)
  • 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
    4.1 7 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $27.99
    Try the 2018 Vintage 29 99
    27 99
    27 99
    Save $0.00 (0%)
  • Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot 2016 Front Label
    Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot 2016
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • JS92
    • WW91
    • WE91
    • CG90
    • W&S90
    • WS90
    4.5 102 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $49.99
    Try the 2018 Vintage 55 99
    56
    49 99
    Save $6.01 (11%)
  • Frog's Leap Merlot 2016 Front Label
    Frog's Leap Merlot 2016
    Merlot from Rutherford, Napa Valley, California
    • W&S93
    • WW91
    3.8 13 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $39.99
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    39 99
    39 99
    Save $0.00 (0%)
  • Frog's Leap Merlot (375ML half-bottle) 2016 Front Label
    Frog's Leap Merlot (375ML half-bottle) 2016
    Merlot from Rutherford, Napa Valley, California
    • W&S93
    • WW91
    0.0 0 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $23.99
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    23 99
    23 99
    Save $0.00 (0%)
  • Keenan Mailbox Vineyard Spring Mountain Reserve Merlot 2016  Front Label
    Keenan Mailbox Vineyard Spring Mountain Reserve Merlot 2016
    Merlot from Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley, California
    • W&S93
    • JS93
    0.0 0 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $74.99
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    74 99
    74 99
    Save $0.00 (0%)
  • Chappellet Merlot 2016 Front Label
    Chappellet Merlot 2016
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • W&S91
    • WW91
    • WE90
    0.0 0 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $52.99
    Try the 2018 Vintage 51 99
    52 99
    52 99
    Save $0.00 (0%)
  • Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2016  Front Label
    Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2016
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • JS92
    • WW91
    • WE91
    • W&S90
    • CG90
    • WS90
    0.0 0 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $104.99
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    104 99
    104 99
    Save $0.00 (0%)
  • Duckhorn Three Palms Merlot (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2016 Front Label
    Duckhorn Three Palms Merlot (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2016
    Merlot from Calistoga, Napa Valley, California
    • WE94
    • JS94
    • CG93
    • WS93
    • W&S90
    4.7 5 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $199.99
    Try the
    199 99
    199 99
    Save $0.00 (0%)
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