|1. Pride||2. Pahlmeyer||3. Hourglass|
One of the most versatile red grapes you can find is Merlot, which originated from Bordeaux. It can now be spotted worldwide due to its plummy, juicy flavor, which is very appealing to drink. According to 2017 research, Merlot is now the second most widely planted grape for wines around the world.
The grape has its own place in Bordeaux, along with the integral part it plays in the classic claret blend in France. Chile’s central Colchagua Valley has also hosted a good amount of wines produced from merlot. Even Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa have splendid examples of merlot red wines.
If you are not going just by popularity trends or talks of the town, let us tell you merlot is not hyped up without sound reasoning. It is quite versatile because of its ability to produce quality wines in a variety of styles. This range features fruit-forward cherry, blackberry, and plum notes along with earthier variations of oak, tobacco leaf, bell pepper, or chocolate.
Here is a list we curated for you to choose the best merlot wine for yourself.
Top 9 Best Merlot Wines 2021
1. Pride Mountain Vineyards Merlot
Pride Mountain’s Estate Merlot displays the 2018 vintage collection’s incredible quality. The wine is sensationally dense with blackberry, boysenberry, and ripe plum leaping out of the glass and coating your palate.
The rich and smooth flavor of the fruit is complemented by mocha, milk chocolate, violet, black licorice, sandalwood, and fresh tobacco. The seamless union of the volcanic minerality and voluptuous fruit, along with the velvety tannins, forms an intriguing mouthfeel that leaves you wanting more. Let it decant for an hour to enjoy it in its full bloom.
It is a blend of 83% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. Pride Mountain Merlot tastes best when paired with beef, lamb, or veal.
The taste profile is mostly bold and dry with aromas of dark fruits, baking spices, vanilla, and chocolate. The finish is long and smooth with a note of chocolate.
2. Pahlmeyer Merlot
The winemaking process for Pahlmeyer involved gravity-feeding grape clusters onto a vibrating table to sift out any material other than grapes. An extra visual inspection is carried out to remove any fruit that doesn’t look up to the quality standards.
After a gentle destemming, the grapes go through another round of hand-sorting to make sure the fermenters get only the best of the lot. The berries then undergo cold maceration for five days, followed by two to six weeks of primary fermentation and gentle basket press. The wine is finally aged for 20 months before bottling.
The 2015 Pahlmeyer Merlot is a blend of 96.5% Merlot, 2.5% Malbec, and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon and is colored deep ruby in the glass. The nose consists of crushed raspberries, jam mingles, and red fruit, along with notes of blueberry muffin and orange-spiced tea.
The palate offers a rich entry, which then turns plush and soft- bright red fruit is accompanied by acidity for balance. It is juicy, bold, and dry with a smooth, satisfying length and depth. Painting best with beef, lamb, and veal, this merlot has quite handsome ratings making it one of the front runners to become the best merlot wine.
3. Hourglass Blueline Estate Merlot
Produced by the wineries of Tony Biagi, the Merlot for this wine come from vineyards that are almost entirely devoid of clay, mineral-rich, porous, and nutrient-poor. These conditions result in a lot of drainages that lead to water deficits during the springtime, which sets the perfect stage for small sizes of the berries.
When the berries are small, the wine is richer with firmer tannins. This type of soil also helps to impart a noticeable minerality resulting in more vibrancy that brings the density and richness to life.
The 2016 Blueline Estate Merlot exhibits a supreme balance that is the defining thread of the vintage. It is a blend of 83% Merlot, 10% Cabernet, and 7% Malbec.
The nose offers signature aromas of Asian 5 spice and mandarin orange peel combined with mineral graphite and rose petals. According to Tony, “ It is a hybrid of the ‘12 and ‘13 vintages. It borrows the structural elements and darker fruits from the ‘13 and red fruits and bright aromatics of ‘12.
It has a firm spined texture with a tight structural core encompassed by a soft fruit layer. The layering of fruit is delicious yet complex, along with a vibrant minerality and natural acidity.
Rich and deep yet full of energy, it has a long and expansive finish. As approachable as it is now, the tannin also offers it the potential to age gracefully for about another decade.
4. Switchback Ridge Peterson Family Vineyard Merlot
The 2016 Merlot Peterson Family Vineyards comes from the northern part of the Valley. A blend of 92% Merlot and 8% Cabernet. The nose on it offers loads of blueberries, black cherries, bay leaf, chocolate, herbal notes, and assorted tobacco.
The palate has dominant notes of chocolate, licorice, black, and red fruits and is most ripe, deep, and full-bodied, which also has some espresso-like nuances. The balance and structure make its finish mouth-coating and very long-lasting. The taste profile is mostly bold and not very acidic. You can enjoy it graciously over the next decade.
5. Duckhorn Three Palms Vineyard Merlot
Produced in Napa Valley in an exceptional growing season of 2014, this wine gets elegant tannins, lovely varietal flowers, and the ideal concentration. Composed of 86% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Malbec, and 2% Petit Verdot, this wine was aged for 18 months.
This classic release by Three Palms Vineyard displays enchanting layers of dense cedar, cream, graphite, and dark red fruits with hints of wet river rock. The mouthfeel is expansive with a dry and long finish.
On the palate, it is polished and pure with rich flavors of black and red fruit balanced out by subtle sweet oak and structured, firm tannins. It also ensures that the stunning Merlot will age gracefully for years to come.
6. Twomey Merlot
Twomey Merlot is sourced exclusively from their estate, Soda Canyon Ranch, situated in southern Napa Valley. The berries produced by Merlot clones there are small and intensely flavored.
A blend of 80% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot have a clear dark ruby color. This wine’s nose is very expressive with a bouquet of vegetative and ripe forest fruit aromas.
With a silky, velvety texture, the mouthfeel is voluptuous, displaying flavors of dark chocolate-dipped cherries. Full-bodied, medium acidity, and dry; it also has flavors of spices, oak, and vanilla.
The technique of making is age-old and labor-intensive but results in softened tannins that amplify the aromatic qualities of the wine. Absolutely delicious for drinking now, this red is concentrated, intense with power and finesse combined in perfect balance.
7. Beringer Single Vineyard Bancroft Ranch Merlot
The grape clusters are kept separate through the process of fermentation and aging. It preserves the individual terroir characteristics of individual sections of the vineyard. They are gently crushed, destemmed, and then the skins and juice are sent to extract flavors, tannins, and color.
Aged for 21 months in custom toasted French Nevers oak barrels, the Cabernet-like tannins start to soften while the barrel aromas integrate well with the wine’s ripe fruit characteristics. Tiny percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc are added to add complexities and lengthen the finish.
This 2015 Merlot has an introductory nose of ripe red berry fruit, toasted spice, espresso, and mocha. It is well-structured, complex, and has a core of rich blue and red fruits as the palate’s foundation.
It also has flavors of tobacco, chocolate, plum, and some earthy notes. The solid structure and developed tannins, along with a full-body and dry mouthfeel, offer a depth in the concentration of flavor.
8. La Jota Merlot
A blend of 90% Merlot, 5.5% Petit Verdot, and 4.5% Tanmat, the 2016 Merlot is deep garnet-purple in color and pours out with vivacious notes of blackberry compote, Black Forest cake, and preserved plums with touches of truffles, black soil, licorice, and baking spices. On the palate, it is rich, full, earthy, and concentrated with firm, grainy tannins.
With an emphasized freshness of pomegranate, red currant, sage, graphite, and blood orange, the finish is long and earthy. Round-textured and layered, it is full-bodied and balanced well. It has a bold, dry, and not very acidic mouthfeel and pairs best with beef, lamb, and veal. Enjoy this wine now through 2026.
9. Paradigm Merlot
Paradigm is known for its consistency in delivering one of the best merlot wine in Napa Valley. Bright plum, red cherry, and blackberry on the nose with a hint of spice flavors and French Oak. Blackberry even follows in the body along with cherry and vanilla rounded out with oak, giving it a lush mouthfeel in the mid-palate.
You can taste lots of chocolate at the back end of the palate. All in all, the flavors are pure, rich, and elongated, offering a silky texture. It doesn’t have a lot of acidities and is mostly dry and bold. The finish has layers of chocolate and oak.
Just to be sure about your choice, here are some basic facts about Merlot wines that will be helpful before purchasing a bottle.
What Does Merlot Mean?
In French, Merlot means “the little blackbird” and refers to the red grape that goes into making the Merlot wine.
What Does Merlot Taste Like?
As known as a chameleon, Merlot adapts to various climates, taking on the winemaking techniques and the location of growth. However, good quality Merlot isn’t easy to grow. Often people tend to overplant and end up with a massive quantity of low-quality wine.
Traditionally, Merlot is medium to full-bodied, moderately acidic, dry wine with soft but present tannins and moderate to high alcohol. The best Merlots usually have a range of flavors- from blackberries, herbs, and graphite to cocoa, plums, and black cherries. They are often layered with hints of vanilla, cedar, and clove when aged in oak.
What Color Is Merlot?
Merlot is red because of the red-skinned grapes it is made with. Younger wines tend to be deep ruby red with an opacity of partially or completely opaque. The color is usually deeper than Pinot Noir and lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon. You can look for glints of brick/orange tones on the rim to get a good indication of the wine in your glass being Merlot.
However, as it ages, the color too changes into garnet, losing brightness and pigmentation. On rare occasions, Merlot is also used to make white and rose wine.
Is Merlot Sweet Or Dry?
Merlot is generally produced in a dry style. It is important to note that the sweet taste of ripe fruits like plums and cherries is not the same as the sweetness from the sugar content. When the sugar from the pressed grapes is turned into alcohol by yeast, it is called dry wine.
When almost all or completely all the sugar is converted, the wine produced is fully dry. Sometimes, there is a little sugar left behind, which is called residual sugar (RS). This can help give a hint of sweetness and richness to the wine or can just happen indeliberately when the yeast doesn’t finish the fermentation.
However, it is still considered a dry wine if the RS is a few grams per liter.
How Should I Serve Merlot?
Merlot, like every other red, has an ideal serving temperature range. The theory of serving red at room temperature is no more followed as every home has a different temperature varying with season and location.
Notwithstanding, the average house is 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit, which is still not cold enough for red wine. If the Merlot is too warm, the flavors are all muddles, and the alcohol is hot. If it is too cold, the flavors and aromas are benumbed.
Therefore, the ideal temperature to serve Merlot is between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. You can achieve this range easily by placing the bottle in the refrigerator for merely 15 minutes. If the bottle isn’t finished at one sitting, you can use wine stoppers or just replace the cork and put it back in the fridge.
The flavors stay preserved and fresh for almost two to four days. The wine starts to oxidize after that, which is when you can toss it in a vegetable dish or braised meat.
What Foods Pair Best With Merlot?
As we said earlier, Merlot is loved for its versatility, thanks to the variety of prices and styles available in the market. Fruity Merlot that is easy to drink goes amazingly well with dark and white meats like turkey, pork, chicken, burgers, pasta, and pizza.
Those variants with higher alcohol content, fuller-bodied and ripe, fleshy styles can handle fuller foods. These include lamb, beef, game meats like bison or venison, and hearty bean dishes.
Right bank Merlot from Bordeaux and other classics, savory styles go great with duck, mushroom, and roasted meats. The key to good pairing is to identify and match the favor intensity and weight of the dish with the flavor intensity and weight of the wine.