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Merlot

An easy-going red variety with generous fruit and a supple texture ...

An easy-going red variety with generous fruit and a supple texture, Merlot’s subtle tannins make it perfect for early drinking and allow it to pair with a wide range of foods. But the grape also has enough stuffing to make serious, world-renowned wines. One simply needs to look to Bordeaux to understand Merlot's status as a noble variety. On the region’s Right Bank, in St. Emilion and Pomerol, it dominates in blends with Cabernet Franc. On the Left Bank in the Medoc, it plays a supporting role to (and helps soften) Cabernet Sauvignon—in both cases resulting in some of the longest-lived and highest-quality wines in the world. They are often emulated elsewhere in Bordeaux-style blends, particularly in California’s Napa Valley, where Merlot also frequently shines on its own.

In the Glass

Merlot is known for its soft, silky texture and approachable flavors of ripe plum, red and black cherry and raspberry. In a cool climate, you may find earthier notes alongside dried herbs, tobacco and tar, while Merlot from warmer regions is generally more straightforward and fruit-focused.

Perfect Pairings

Lamb with Merlot is an ideal match—the sweetness of the meat picks up on the sweet fruit flavors of the wine to create a harmonious balance. Merlot’s gentle tannins allow for a hint of spice and its medium weight and bright acidity permit the possibilities of simple pizza or pasta with red sauce—overall, an extremely versatile food wine.

Sommelier Secret

Since the release of the 2004 film Sideways, Merlot's repuation has taken a big hit, and more than a decade later has yet to fully recover, though it is on its way. What many 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.

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    Merryvale Merlot 2015
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • WS91
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    Mt. Brave Merlot 2015
    Merlot from Mt. Veeder, Napa Valley, California
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    Keenan Mailbox Vineyard Spring Mountain Reserve Merlot 2015
    Merlot from Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley, California
    • V95
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    Matthiasson Red Hen Vineyard Merlot 2013
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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    Tenuta Guado al Tasso Cont Ugo 2013
    Merlot from Bolgheri, Tuscany, Italy
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    Tenuta Guado al Tasso Cont Ugo 2015
    Merlot from Bolgheri, Tuscany, Italy
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    Coach House Cellars Merlot 2011
    Merlot from Columbia Valley, Washington
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      Lava Cap Reserve Merlot 2015
      Merlot from El Dorado, Sierra Foothills, California
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      Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Creek Vineyard Merlot 2012
      Merlot from Columbia Valley, Washington
      • WS91
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      McIntyre Kimberly Vineyards Merlot 2014
      Merlot from Arroyo Seco, Monterey, Central Coast, California
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        Lava Cap Reserve Merlot 2014
        Merlot from El Dorado, Sierra Foothills, California
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          Wing Canyon Lolita Merlot 2013
          Merlot from Mt. Veeder, Napa Valley, California
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            Truchard Merlot 2015
            Merlot from Carneros, California
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              Coach House Cellars Merlot 2013
              Merlot from Columbia Valley, Washington
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                Brander Merlot 2016
                Merlot from Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara, Central Coast, California
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                  Urban Legend Cellars Merlot 2013
                  Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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                    Camp Merlot 2017
                    Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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                      Woodward Canyon Columbia Valley Merlot 2014
                      Merlot from Columbia Valley, Washington
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                      Camp Merlot 2016
                      Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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                        Tamber Bey Deux Chevaux Vineyard Merlot 2015
                        Merlot from Yountville, Napa Valley, California
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                          Korbin Kameron Merlot 2014
                          Merlot from Moon Mountain District, Sonoma Valley, Sonoma County, California
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                          Matthiasson Red Hen Vineyard Merlot 2012
                          Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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                            Rocca Family Vineyards Grigsby Vineyard Merlot 2013
                            Merlot from Yountville, Napa Valley, California
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                              Alcance Gran Reserva Merlot 2014
                              Merlot from Chile
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                                Feudi del Pisciotto Terre Siciliane Merlot 2014
                                Merlot from Sicily, Italy
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