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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. One simply needs to look to Bordeaux to understand Merlot's status as a noble variety. On the region’s Right Bank, it dominates in blends with Cabernet Franc, and on the Left Bank, 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 and Cabernet Franc.

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  • Chateau Mayne Vieil Cuvee Alienor 2014
    Merlot from Fronsac, Bordeaux, France
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  • Castiglion del Bosco Dainero 2013
    Merlot from Tuscany, Italy
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  • Ghost Pines Merlot 2014
    Merlot from North Coast, California
    • TP92
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  • Rancho Sisquoc Merlot 2014
    Merlot from Santa Barbara, Central Coast, California
    • WE91
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  • Napa Cellars Merlot 2013
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    • W&S91
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  • Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Vineyard Merlot 2013
    Merlot from Columbia Valley, Washington
    • WS90
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  • J. Lohr Los Osos Merlot 2014
    Merlot from Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
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  • Decoy Merlot 2014
    Merlot from Sonoma County, California
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  • Folie a Deux Merlot 2013
    Merlot from Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California
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  • Bonterra Organically Grown Merlot 2014
    Merlot from Mendocino, California
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  • Oberon Merlot 2015
    Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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  • Murphy-Goode California Merlot 2013
    Merlot from California
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    • TP89
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  • Santa Ema Reserve Merlot 2013
    Merlot from Maipo Valley, Chile
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