Loading there is an uneasy relation to Merlot. It’s responsible for one the most coveted and expensive wines on the planet’s Chateau Petrus, located in Pomerol on Bordeaux’s Right Bank- and plays a vital role in many other reds from this region. It’s also an essential blend with Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley. Many wines labeled as Cabs also have a little from Merlot in them, often in conjunction with other grape varieties such as Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. But on this part of the Atlantic, varietally labeled Merlots are generally considered a negative.
It’s a bias that makes sense. For an extended period, there was a vast array of American Merlot that was mediocre, which was frequently over-cropped, altered in the winery, and often expressing just monochromatic fruit (and frequently the oak). However, painting all American Merlot using the same brush isn’t accurate for the variety of Merlot’s expressions within America. The terms of Merlot in the United States are wide-ranging and different. They could be ripe, dense, and puffed when planted in the lower levels within Napa Valley. They may be more nervy and well-structured by the appellations in the region’s mountains. Some blend completely different soils and climates that are found in Washington State. The world of the domestic Merlot is more varied and intriguing than it is given recognition for. The following 19 are an excellent way to start your journey.
2019 Bouchaine Hyde Vineyard Merlot Carneros – Napa Valley
As one would expect from the renowned Hyde Vineyard, this Merlot is beautifully constructed. With the sweet tannins remaining dominant in the wine, it is hard to resist at this point in its development. It is a cola-sapaparilla blend along with cigar humidors and black licorice. All of that adds fascinating layers to the flavors of blackberries, plum sauce cassis, and black raspberry berries. As you drink, the aromas of scrubby herbs come out, while the acids keep it fresh.
2019 Chappellet Merlot Napa Valley
The color is dark and inky and is full of scents of toasty cacao nibs, coffee beans, grilled vanilla cassis, and plums. The sweet, still-integrating tannins laced with spicy cassis and plums highlight the smooth mouthfeel. It’s brightened with the well-calibrated acidity that lingers throughout the blueberry-kissed end.
2019 Cuvaison Arcilla Merlot Los Carneros – Napa Valley
An unmistakable evocation of strawberries makes this wine distinct initially; however, when you add air and time to the bottle, subtle tannins reminiscent of tea envelope the flavors of blackberry, blueberry, and smashed raspberry. Carob notes are accompanied by a mineral-y taste, which, along with the oak’s toastiness, creates a distinctively delicious Merlot that still shows many sweet dark fruits. The black plum sauce, licorice, and mineral finish blend fantastically.
2019 Duckhorn Three Palms Vineyard Merlot Napa Valley
This vintage is a stunning illustration of the characteristics that make the Three Palms Merlot from Duckhorn so well-known, featuring sweet tannins, well-integrated oak spicing the hoisin sauce and cassis violets, and candied peels of orange. Floral and sandalwood peppercorns pop up through vigorous swirling or a time in the decanter and are accompanied by vanilla, espresso beans, and loam.
2019 L’Ecole No. 41 Merlot Walla Walla Valley, Washington
This gem from the estate is beautifully defined and crafted to age in mid-term, but it’s also an excellent red to drink now. Now. Ripe red berries and cherries are complemented by carob and dusty tannins, and minerality pulsates through every drink.
2019 La Jota Vineyard Co. Howell Mountain Estate Merlot Napa Valley
This is a classic creation by producer Chris Carpenter, whose use of mountain-grown grapes is awe-inspiring. Tannins that have been aging well open up to some air, which allows notes of licorice and granite, cacao nibs, and blackberry olives cured in black and a well-steeped cup of tea to shine. The violets and cardamom are lingering through the lengthy end.
2020 Macari Vineyards Merlot North Fork of Long Island
The flavor is spicy and initially dominated by crushed white and black peppercorns. It’s an entirely different kind of Merlot than you would expect and all the more enjoyable. It’s also highly translucent to a type, especially when most domestic Merlots are inky purple inside the glass. In the air, this reveals red raspberries, red cherries, toasty fennel seeds, and oak spices.
2018 Meeker Winemakers’ Handprint Collection Merlot Sonoma County
The wine is well-defined and lifted by the aroma. The wine has a bouquet of black raspberries, perfectly ripe cherries, and goji berries. It also has the juice of pomegranate and rooibos tea. The earthy, lingering smell, sarsaparilla-dusted tannins, and a bay-lea flavor on the finish are fascinating. This wine is sophisticated but robust and well-constructed for cellaring, but it’s also great in the present with meat that has been grilled. The bottle, which has an intricately engraved handprint, is stunning.
2019 Mt. Brave Merlot Mt. Veeder, Napa Valley
Rich, toasty, and edgy, This kind of wine rewards perseverance. It is nice with blackberry liqueur, purple plums, cassis, and cardamom and will unfold in the next decade and beyond. The graphite-like tannins provide a remarkable balance and structure. an edgy laurel dusting and cigars further enhance the layers of complexity.
2019 Northstar Premier Merlot Columbia Valley, Washington
The texture is velvety, and the fruit is ripe with a punch of acidity. This Merlot blends crushed mulberries, blackberries, vanilla, clove, and toasty oak. It’s a highly appealing Merlot and a beautiful illustration of what this Merlot variety can do well within Columbia Valley.
2019 PlumpJack Estate Winery Merlot Napa Valley
It’s a toasty contemporary, elegant, and a crowd-pleasing delight. It’s chocolaty, rich, and sprinkled with cocoa and cafe mocha powder. However, the blackberries, plums, and cassis that give the flavor are accentuated by the sweetness of candied violets. It could age for another up to seven or five years. However, I love the current fruit, and it’s the perfect center of attention.
2019 Ridge Vineyards Estate Merlot Santa Cruz Mountains
This Merlot sparkles with its personality that makes the Monte Bello Vineyard so venerable. The nose is heavily dominated by incense, cedar, and prickly berries. The palate is an exercise in harmony and elegance, with blueberries and purple plums seasoned with dried violets and cardamom. Beautifully balanced acidity frames the whole with a promise of an additional ten to fifteen years of longevity.