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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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  • Merryvale Merlot 2015 Front Label
    Merryvale Merlot 2015
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • WS91
    3.6 7 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $43.99
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    48
    43 99
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  • The Prisoner Wine Company Thorn Merlot 2015 Front Label
    The Prisoner Wine Company Thorn Merlot 2015
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • WS90
    4.3 48 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $41.99
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    41 99
    41 99
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  • Rombauer Merlot 2015 Front Label
    Rombauer Merlot 2015
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • WW91
    • WS90
    4.5 9 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $39.99
    Try the 2018 Vintage 57 99
    50
    39 99
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  • Napa Cellars Merlot 2015  Front Label
    Napa Cellars Merlot 2015
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • WS89
    0.0 0 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $23.99
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    23 99
    23 99
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  • St. Francis Reserve Merlot 2015 Front Label
    St. Francis Reserve Merlot 2015
    Merlot from Sonoma Valley, Sonoma County, California
    • JD92
    • RP92
    • WS91
    • WE90
    0.0 0 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $43.99
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    52
    43 99
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  • Ferrari-Carano Merlot 2015  Front Label
    Ferrari-Carano Merlot 2015
    Merlot from Sonoma County, California
    • WS89
    4.1 14 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $21.99
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    21 99
    21 99
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  • Oberon Merlot 2015 Front Label
    Oberon Merlot 2015
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • WS90
    3.8 20 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $21.99
    Try the 2018 Vintage 23 99
    23
    21 99
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  • Darioush Signature Merlot 2015 Front Label
    Darioush Signature Merlot 2015
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • WS91
    • JS91
    0.0 0 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $69.99
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    69 99
    69 99
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  • La Jota Howell Mountain Merlot 2015  Front Label
    La Jota Howell Mountain Merlot 2015
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • RP94
    • WS93
    • WE93
    0.0 0 Ratings
    Currently Unavailable $99.99
    Try the 2017 Vintage 89 99
    99 99
    99 99
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