Dust of the Merlot! Merlot is a grape that's easy to love. It gets categorized as safe and thus often loses its chance to shine. That's now all changed. Vintners now plant Merlot in their finest vineyards and age it in the best oak barrels available. It receives the kind of care once reserved exclusively for Cabernet.
In California, almost everyone produces a decent Merlot, with Napa and Sonoma leading the way. Washington State has some outstanding ones. Canoe Ridge and Chateau Ste. Michelle are some of the stars in the Northwest. Merlot mania is not just in America. I like the Orlando Wines Merlot from Australia, Vinas del Vero from Spain and Masseto from Italy. And we can't leave out Chateau Petrus and all the other wonderful Merlots made in Pomerol and Saint-Emilion.
Here are my current favorite Merlots.
Cannonball Winery 2014 Merlot Sonoma $15
Smooth and smoky nose; lush, velvety and rich with tangy plum and berries; balanced and impressive - especially at this price. 90 Points
Canoe Ridge Winery 2012 Reserve Merlot Canoe Ridge Vineyard Horse Heaven Hills $25
Lush and juicy with dense plum and spice; tangy and long with clean, racy flavors; ripe and dense.
Château Lassègue 2012 Les Cadrans Grand Cru Saint-Emilion $35
Smooth and dusty with ripe plum and complex flavors; silky, fresh and balanced; long and juicy. 90 Points
Pellet Estate 2014 Merlot Estate Napa Valley $75
Bright and juicy with plum and black raspberry; crisp, elegant and nicely delineated; silky texture and lovely balance; long, deep and lovely. 94 Points