As a wine enthusiast, I have had the pleasure of exploring numerous varieties of wines, but when it comes to red wine, Merlot holds a special place in my heart. Its smooth and velvety texture, coupled with its rich flavors, make it a go-to choice for many wine lovers. In this article, I will guide you through the world of Merlot and share with you my personal top 18 picks for the best Merlot wines.
The Classic Merlot Profile
Merlot is a red wine grape variety that originated in Bordeaux, France. It is known for its medium to full body, low tannins, and lush fruit flavors. Merlot wines often exhibit notes of black cherry, plum, and blackberry, along with hints of chocolate, vanilla, and tobacco.
1. Chateau Petrus Pomerol 2015
Let’s start with a true gem – the Chateau Petrus Pomerol 2015. This wine is considered one of the finest expressions of Merlot in the world. With its remarkable depth and complexity, it offers layers of black fruit, spice, and earthy undertones. Its velvety tannins and long finish make it an unforgettable experience.
2. Duckhorn Vineyards Three Palms Vineyard Merlot 2016
Next up, we have the Duckhorn Vineyards Three Palms Vineyard Merlot 2016. This Napa Valley Merlot showcases the elegance and richness that the region is famous for. It boasts flavors of ripe blackberry, cherry, and mocha, with a touch of spice. The Three Palms Vineyard is renowned for producing exceptional Merlot, and this bottle is no exception.
3. Shafer Vineyards Merlot 2016
The Shafer Vineyards Merlot 2016 is another standout wine. Hailing from the Stags Leap District of Napa Valley, this Merlot exudes power and finesse. It offers a bouquet of dark fruits, cedar, and cocoa. The palate is rich and layered, with velvety tannins and a long, smooth finish. It’s a true representation of the quality that Napa Valley can achieve with Merlot.
4. Leonetti Cellar Merlot 2017
From Washington State, the Leonetti Cellar Merlot 2017 showcases the potential of Merlot in this region. It displays intense aromas of raspberry, blackberry, and violet, followed by flavors of dark chocolate, espresso, and a touch of baking spice. This wine is structured, balanced, and highly enjoyable.
5. Chateau Canon-La-Gaffeliere St-Emilion 2016
Heading back to Bordeaux, the Chateau Canon-La-Gaffeliere St-Emilion 2016 is a Merlot-dominant blend that truly impresses. It reveals a complex nose of black fruits, floral notes, and spices. On the palate, it is rich and deep, with silky tannins and a persistent finish. This wine showcases the elegance and finesse that makes St-Emilion wines so revered.
6. Pride Mountain Vineyards Merlot 2017
Traveling to the mountains of Napa and Sonoma, we find the Pride Mountain Vineyards Merlot 2017. This wine combines fruit from both regions, resulting in a harmonious and balanced expression. It offers aromas of black cherry, blueberry, and violet, with flavors of dark chocolate, tobacco, and a hint of mountain herbs. The structure and depth of this wine are truly remarkable.
7. Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Masseto Toscana 2016
Now, let’s venture to Tuscany, Italy, where the Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Masseto Toscana 2016 awaits. This iconic Merlot is often referred to as the “Super Tuscan” of Merlot wines. It showcases a stunning array of ripe dark fruits, graphite, tobacco, and a touch of balsamic. The tannins are refined, the acidity is vibrant, and the finish is incredibly long. It’s a wine that demands attention.
8. Mullan Road Cellars Red Wine Blend 2016
From the Columbia Valley in Washington State, the Mullan Road Cellars Red Wine Blend 2016 is a captivating blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. It boasts aromas of blackberry, cassis, and cedar, with flavors of dark chocolate, vanilla, and spice. This wine is rich, balanced, and offers a seamless integration of its components.
9. Chateau Cheval Blanc St-Emilion 2015
Returning to Bordeaux, the Chateau Cheval Blanc St-Emilion 2015 is a legendary wine that showcases the artistry of Merlot. This blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc offers a bouquet of ripe dark fruits, tobacco, and truffle. On the palate, it is opulent and velvety, with well-integrated tannins and a persistent finish. It’s a wine that is both powerful and graceful.
10. Seavey Vineyard Merlot 2015
From the Napa Valley’s Howell Mountain, the Seavey Vineyard Merlot 2015 is a hidden gem that deserves more recognition. It exudes aromas of black plum, blackberry, and violet, with hints of baking spices. The palate is rich and concentrated, with supple tannins and a long, satisfying finish. This wine beautifully reflects the characteristics of its terroir.
11. Dominus Estate Napa Valley 2016
The Dominus Estate Napa Valley 2016 is a Bordeaux-style blend that includes a significant proportion of Merlot. This wine captures the essence of Napa Valley with its ripe black fruit flavors, crushed herbs, and cocoa. It is full-bodied and structured, with well-integrated tannins and a mesmerizing finish. It’s a wine that showcases the potential of Merlot in a blend.
12. L’Aventure Estate Cuvée Paso Robles 2017
Traveling to Paso Robles, California, we find the l’Aventure Estate Cuvée Paso Robles 2017. This Merlot-dominant blend offers a burst of dark fruit aromas, along with notes of chocolate, mocha, and baking spices. The palate is intense and powerful, with ripe tannins and a long, lingering finish. It’s a wine that truly represents the spirit of Paso Robles.
13. Tenuta San Guido Guidalberto Toscana 2017
From the same winery that produces the renowned Sassicaia, the Tenuta San Guido Guidalberto Toscana 2017 is a beautiful expression of Merlot. It displays aromas of black fruits, violet, and herbs, along with flavors of ripe cherry, espresso, and tobacco. This wine is elegant, balanced, and offers a glimpse into the magic of Bolgheri.
14. Clos du Val Merlot 2016
Returning to Napa Valley, the Clos du Val Merlot 2016 is a fantastic representation of the region’s Merlot offerings. It showcases enticing aromas of blackberry, plum, and cedar, with flavors of dark chocolate, vanilla, and baking spices. The tannins are silky, and the finish is long and satisfying. It’s a wine that consistently delivers quality year after year.
15. Leonetti Cellar Walla Walla Valley 2016
Staying in Washington State, the Leonetti Cellar Walla Walla Valley 2016 is another remarkable Merlot. It presents aromas of black cherry, raspberry, and rosemary, with flavors of dark chocolate, tobacco, and black pepper. This wine is full-bodied, with well-integrated tannins and a lingering finish. It’s a testament to the potential of Merlot in this region.
16. Chateau Le Gay Pomerol 2016
Returning to the appellation of Pomerol, the Chateau Le Gay Pomerol 2016 is a wine that deserves attention. It displays a complex aromatic profile, with notes of blackberry, violet, and exotic spices. On the palate, it is generous and structured, with a fine balance between fruit and earthy flavors. This wine has the potential for long-term aging.
17. Newton Vineyard Unfiltered Merlot 2015
From Napa Valley’s Spring Mountain District, the Newton Vineyard Unfiltered Merlot 2015 offers a unique expression of Merlot. It showcases aromas of ripe blackberries, blackcurrant jam, and dried herbs. The palate is full-bodied and textured, with velvety tannins and a persistent finish. This wine captures the essence of the mountainous terroir.
18. La Jota Vineyard Co. Howell Mountain Merlot 2015
Lastly, we have the La Jota Vineyard Co. Howell Mountain Merlot 2015, which demonstrates the potential of Merlot in the Howell Mountain AVA. It presents aromas of blackberry, blueberry, and sweet spices. On the palate, it is bold and concentrated, with firm tannins and a lengthy finish. This wine showcases the intensity and power that Howell Mountain can deliver.
In conclusion, the world of Merlot offers a diverse range of flavors and styles, each with its own unique charm. From the prestigious Chateau Petrus Pomerol 2015 to the hidden gem of Seavey Vineyard Merlot 2015, there is a Merlot wine to suit every palate. Whether you prefer the elegance of Bordeaux or the boldness of Napa Valley, exploring the best Merlot wines is a journey that is sure to be rewarding.