With Merlot Month here this October it seemed a fitting time to finally write about some of my favorite Merlot Wines. This post is just as surprising to me as you as you probably know, I typically adore tasting and writing about Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Champagne, yet recently Merlot has caught my attention and it’s fair to say that now it is one of my favorite varietals. And also so interesting as each one is so so unique, site specific and varies in flavors, complexity and style based on the winemaker, the AVA and so many other winemaking elements.
See some of my favorite Merlot Wines below and as always, if you have any suggestions on what I’m missing or more to try please, send them my way!
A Napa Valley Merlot that I adore comes from Mount Brave. This wine is made by one of the most incredible winemakers in Napa Valley, Christopher Carpenter who also makes Lakoya Wines, Cardinale Wines, La Jota and also Hickinbotham. For those of you who have not been to Lokoya Winery it’s quite possibly the most beautiful and unique settings of any winery I’ve visited in Napa Valley and suggest it to all wine lovers. Read more about Lokoya here and get yourself in there soon and you’ll thank me… The Mt. Brave Merlot may be one of my favorite Merlots on this list as I’d describe it as a Cabernet Sauvignon drinkers Merlot. It’s super rich in flavor with dark fruit expressions, an extremely full body texture with incredible tannins and that big mountain fruit taste. The terroir of Mt. Veeder is evident on the tongue of this rich, delicious 2015 Mount Brave Merlot ($80)Merlot that will melt in your mouth. Purchase Mount Brave Merlot here.
La Jota Vineyard Co.
La Jota Vineyard Co. is another brand producing another stunning Merlot, also made by Christopher Carpenter. This is made from fruit from Howell Mountain, a vineyard I’ve actually visited with the La Jota Team which is incredible. You feel as if you’re at the top of Napa Valley with rolling vineyards in the most secluded nook of the mountain. Tasting the wine in the vineyard it was grown in added an element to the flavor that’s hard to explain…. The 2015 La Jota Merlot ($85) showcases the mountain terroir with amazing body, dark coffee and chocolate flavors combined with ripe black fruit and a lovely big bold taste on the palate. Purchase the La Jota Merlot here.
Blackbird Vineyards Blackmail
Another superb Merlot from Napa Valley I adore is the 2015 Blackbird BlackMail Merlot ($100). Winemaker Aaron Pott describes this best, “The 2015 BlackMail Merlot exudes aromas of dark fruits, vanilla, nutmeg and chocolate on the nose. The back palate showcases flavors of blackberry, plum, eucalyptus, black cherry and tobacco, concluding with an intriguing rich finish”. Purchase online here (if you’re a BlackMail member, as it’s only available to members).
Alpha Omega Winery
Another incredible Napa Merlot is from the Alpha Omega Winery, the 2015 Napa Valley Merlot ($100). This is a stunning Napa Valley Merlot with fruit selected from Newton Spring Vineyard in Spring Mountain, some of the best Merlot vineyards in Napa Valley. This Merlot is extremely elegant yet showcases deep concentration of fruit and great structure. Those that enjoy a full body, beautifully rich, silky Merlot will adore this Alpha Omega Merlot. Purchase online here.
The Provenance Brand was a brand I wasn’t familiar with until tasting their 2015 Napa Valley Merlot $75) and I quickly fell in love. This Merlot has very deep flavors with a super elegant smooth texture. It also opened up quite a bit, so I’d recommend decantering this or opening it, having a glass then seeing how it evolves for your second glass. This is for sure a beautiful Merlot anyone who enjoys a rich, bold, yet super smooth and soft textured Merlot will adore. Purchase online here.
I had the pleasure of attending both a dinner with the Ehlers Estate Team and visiting their winery (read more about the fabulous visit here) and fell in love with their Merlot. I seriously never thought those words would come out of my mouth but like anything, with time your palette changes and I think it grows richer. I guess after 6 years of living in California and focusing on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sparkling and a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon I’m ready for something new and it looks like it’s Merlot! Visit their website here to purchase (it may be sold out already sadly) and learn more.
Duckhorn Vineyards is making a delicious Merlot from Napa Valley. This merlot has a deep iron taste at first sip, with dark fruit flavors of cherry, raspberry and plum and soft vanilla and clove on the finish. The wine has nice tannins and a silky long texture on the finish. At $56 this is a great value for a Napa Valley Merlot that is easy to drink and something most Merlot lovers will enjoy! Purchase for $56 on Duckhorn here.
Australian Merlot Wines
I have had the chance to taste Hickinbotham’s stunning Australian Merlot a few times and each time I fall more in love… With a 92 point score from Wine Advocate no wonder it’s hard to find and purchase (per the website, limited availability, contact the estate to acquire at 1-844-747-4327 with a limit of 6 bottles per customer). This stunning Merlot is beyond elegant with bright dark fruit flavors, bold taste and rich tannins.On the noise are aromas of red currant, dark fruit such as black cherry with a bold tanning structure yet silky and stunning texture. This is approachable and very enjoyable now (trust me, we devoured the bottle), yet also something if you age will get even more fabulous. Learn more at Hickinbotham Wines here.
Sonoma Merlot Wines
A Merlot on the lighter side both in taste and in price at $25 is the 2016 Decoy Sonoma County Merlot. For someone who enjoys a super big, full body Merlot this isn’t the wine for you. This was a lighter Merlot in taste, flavor and body yet easy to drink and something you could share with a group as a crowd pleaser. This Merlot displays flavors of black cherry, blueberries, with soft vanilla and cocoa. It has subtle balanced tannins on the finish. Purchase online for $25 at Decoy here
Chilean Merlot Wines
Another fabulous Chilean Merlot I recently had the pleasure of tasting was The Alcance Grand Merlot from Alcance Wines. This was very delicious Merlot with bold rich flavors I loved, extremely smooth and silky in texture which was beautiful. I also tasted through quite a bit of the Alcance Wines and enjoyed them all. So if you’re looking for something outside of California check out Alcance Wines and be sure to taste this incredible Merlot. More information on Alcance Wines online here.
This Chilean brand, Odfjell which makes biodynamic and organic wines is producing some beautiful wines, especially this Merlot which I adored. I had the chance to taste quite a few of their wines and meet winemaker Arnaud Hereu and was blown away. Not only by their smooth, elegant, lovely wines but the fact that they’re biodynamic, from Chile and most wines are in the $15 – $35 range. Incredible! This is a brand to explore if looking for something new to try that is high quality, well priced and delicious! More about this Armador Merlot (approx. $10) online here.
Santa Barbara & Paso Robles Merlot Wines
Lucas & Lewellen
Another fun Merlot I thought I’d share is from one of my favorite regions in California, Santa Barbara County. This 2014 Lucas & Lewellen Merlot ($82) is 100% Merlot. This Merlot has an inky taste to it with a subtle smokey and vanilla flavor. This wine isn’t a classic Merlot in style or taste, yet is fun for something a bit different, and unusual from what we normally find in a Merlot. Purchase online at Lucas & Lewellen here.
Another Merlot at the accessible price of $15 is the J Lohr 2015 Merlot from Paso Robles. With whole berry fermentation and a generous amount of Malbec, this Merlot has bright fruit flavors sharing a rich, full body taste with a long finish. And how can you beat the price at $15 from the well known and adored J Lohr family. Purchase online for $15 at J Lohr here.
Thanks to the various brands for partnering with me on this post providing wine samples for tasting of each of the wines written about in this post. As always, I only write about Wines that I like and want to share with my readers.