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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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27 Items
  • Pride Mountain Vineyards Merlot 1998  Front Label
    Pride Mountain Vineyards Merlot 1998
    Merlot from North Coast, California
    • WS93
    • WE93
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    Currently Unavailable $59.97
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    59 97
    59 97
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  • Bonterra Organically Grown Merlot 1998
    Merlot from North Coast, California
    • WS86
    0.0 0 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $20.99
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    20 99
    20 99
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  • Artesa Sonoma Merlot 1998 Front Label
    Artesa Sonoma Merlot 1998
    Merlot from Sonoma County, California
    • WS87
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    Currently Unavailable $24.99
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    24 99
    24 99
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  • Raymond Reserve Selection Merlot 1998
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • WE89
    • WS85
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    Currently Unavailable $25.64
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    28 49
    25 64
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  • Gallo of Sonoma Merlot 1998 Front Label
    Gallo of Sonoma Merlot 1998
    Merlot from Sonoma County, California
    • WS87
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    Currently Unavailable $8.99
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    8 99
    8 99
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  • Rosenblum Cellars Lone Oak Merlot 1998
    Merlot from Sonoma County, California
    • WS85
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    25 99
    25 99
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  • Grand Archer Merlot 1998 Front Label
    Grand Archer Merlot 1998
    Merlot from Sonoma County, California
    • WS85
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    Currently Unavailable $18.49
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    18 49
    18 49
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  • Indigo Hills Merlot 1998
    Merlot from California
    • WS85
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    Currently Unavailable $11.49
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    12 49
    11 49
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  • Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Merlot 1998
    Merlot from Sonoma County, California
    • WS86
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    Currently Unavailable $18.99
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    18 99
    18 99
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  • Seven Peaks Merlot 1998 Front Label
    Seven Peaks Merlot 1998
    Merlot from Central Coast, California
    • WS87
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    Currently Unavailable $17.49
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    17 49
    17 49
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  • Ferrari-Carano Merlot 1998
    Merlot from Sonoma County, California
    • WS86
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    Currently Unavailable $27.99
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    27 99
    27 99
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  • Kenwood Sonoma County Merlot 1998
    Merlot from Sonoma County, California
    • WS87
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    Currently Unavailable $21.99
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    21 99
    21 99
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  • Fetzer Barrel Select Merlot 1998 Front Label
    Fetzer Barrel Select Merlot 1998
    Merlot from North Coast, California
    • WS87
    • WE85
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    Currently Unavailable $16.99
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    17 99
    16 99
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  • St. Francis Merlot 1998
    Merlot from Sonoma County, California
    • WS87
    • WE86
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    Currently Unavailable $29.99
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    29 99
    29 99
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  • Sterling Napa Merlot 1998 Front Label
    Sterling Napa Merlot 1998
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • WS87
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    Currently Unavailable $25.99
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    27 49
    25 99
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  • Chappellet Merlot 1998
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • WS86
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    Currently Unavailable $19.99
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    24 99
    19 99
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  • Fife Merlot 1998 Front Label
    Fife Merlot 1998
    Merlot from Russian River, Sonoma County, California
    • WS87
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    Currently Unavailable $25.99
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    27 99
    25 99
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  • Joseph Phelps Napa Valley Merlot 1998
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • WS86
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    Currently Unavailable $39.49
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    42 99
    39 49
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  • Silverado Merlot 1998
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • WS87
    • W&S87
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    Currently Unavailable $30.99
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    30 99
    30 99
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  • Trefethen Estate Merlot 1998 Front Label
    Trefethen Estate Merlot 1998
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • WS87
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    Currently Unavailable $29.99
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    29 99
    29 99
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  • Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Merlot 1998 Front Label
    Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Merlot 1998
    Merlot from Sonoma County, California
    • WS87
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    Currently Unavailable $28.99
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    28 99
    28 99
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  • Burgess Merlot 1998 Front Label
    Burgess Merlot 1998
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • WS89
    • WE88
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    Currently Unavailable $26.99
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    29 99
    26 99
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  • Robert Mondavi Carneros Merlot 1998
    Merlot from Carneros, California
    • WS88
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    Currently Unavailable $35.99
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    39 99
    35 99
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  • Chateau Souverain Merlot 1998
    Merlot from Sonoma County, California
    • RP89
    • WS87
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    Currently Unavailable $17.99
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    19 99
    17 99
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  • Stags' Leap Winery Merlot 1998
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • WS89
    • WE86
    0.0 0 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $32.39
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    35 99
    32 39
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