Best Merlot Wine

Merlot became a brand name wine in the 1980s because of its smooth, rich, easy-drinking flavors and texture. It has less acidity and astringency (that furry mouth feeling from tannins) than many other grapes and a medium-body that appeals to many palates. It's since been somewhat vilified, like Chardonnay, for being boring: the soft jazz of the wine world. (Remember Miles' scorn for Merlot in the movie Sideways?) However, it is also the leading grape in some of the world's most famous wines such as Château Petrus, Château Cheval Blanc and Château Palmer.

Merlot is the third most widely planted grape in France (after Carignan and Grenache) and first in the Bordeaux region, especially in St. Emilion and Pomerol, where it usually leads in the blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet France, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Other regions notable for Merlot include southern France (Languedoc), north east Italy (Veneto), eastern Europe, California, Washington State, Chile, Argentina and New Zealand. In Chile, many vines long thought to be Merlot were later identified as Carmenère, a Bordeaux variety.

The two grapes are similar, though, in aroma profile, but Carmenère tends to have more structure. Merlot ripens about a week earlier than both Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc and therefore is generally richer, riper and rounder as a grape in the blend. It also is a safer bet for vintners because they can harvest Merlot earlier before fall rains or early frosts. Merlot likes dry, rocky soils but is thin-skinned and can be prone to rot or early spring frosts since it also flowers early. It must be pruned regularly as it's a vigorous vine that if over-cropped, produces wines that taste watery, weedy or grassy.

My reviews of these Merlot red wines are updated weekly. These Merlot red wines offer great taste at a good price. You'll find a definition of Merlot wine at the bottom of this page as well as food pairings for Merlot in my wine matcher. This is just a small set of my reviews, but you can get all of them when you join my wine community.

Crios Brioso Dominio Del Plata Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec Cabernet Franc Petit Verdot Merlot 2005
Mendoza, Argentina
Fantastic expression of elegance, balance and finesse. Old World restraint with New World fruit power. Aromas of dark fruit: cassis and blackcurrant in this blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Malbec, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% petit Verdot and 5% Merlot. This wine was aged 14 months in new French oak barrels. An international benchmark wine. Alcohol: 14%  Sweetness: Extra Dry  750 ml  Price: $15.00 Score: 95/100

This Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec Cabernet Franc Petit Verdot Merlot was reviewed June 12, 2009 by Natalie MacLean


Kim Crawford Merlot 2010
Hawkes Bay, North Island, New Zealand
A robust, smooth red with fleshy black plums and some dark spice on the finish. Try it with grilled pork chops. Alcohol: 13.5%  Sweetness: Extra Dry  750 ml  Drink: 2013‐2015  Heavenly Hamburger Wine  Price: $19.95 Score: 88/100

This Merlot was reviewed July 6, 2013 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 680967  Check Stock

Christian Moueix Merlot 2005
A.C., Bordeaux, France
A black inky wine with aromas of dark plum, blackberries, cassis, mocha and oak. Full-bodied with satisfying long flavors and finish. Decant for 1-2 hours. This wine is part of the Vintages Essentials Collection. Merlot food pairings: veal medallions and sautéed mushrooms. Alcohol: 13%  Sweetness: Dry  750 ml  Price: $15.95 Score: 88/100

This Merlot was reviewed April 21, 2009 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 961227  Check Stock
BC: 369405  Check Stock
SAQ: 369405  Check Stock

Monte Antico Sangiovese Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
I.G.T., Tuscany, Italy
Mocha-rich nose with blackberries and plums. Mouth-watering and full-bodied and smooth. An absolutely delightful wine, especially for this price! Alcohol: 12.5%  Sweetness: Extra Dry  750 ml  Drink: 2010‐2014  Price: $15.00 Score: 89/100

This Sangiovese Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon was reviewed August 21, 2010 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 69377  Check Stock

Château De La Lambertie Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc 2008
A.C., Bordeaux, France
Vintages Wine Panel: A blend of 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Cabernet Franc. This Gold Medal-winning Bordeaux boasts pleasing aromas of plum, berry and fresh cherry with a hint of tea, all replaying smoothly on the palate. It’s dry, medium bodied, and shows good length on the finish. You can hang on to this wine for a few years, or enjoy it this evening. My note: Simple, rustic and tannic but leanings toward classic Bordeaux styling and structure. Aromas of cassis and wild blackberries with some smoky oak. Unbelievably great price for Bordeaux. Decant for 1-2 hours. Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc food pairings: grilled steak, roast veal. Alcohol: 13%  Sweetness: Extra Dry  750 ml  Drink: 2010‐2014  Price: $14.95 Score: 87/100

This Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc was reviewed August 21, 2010 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 171157  Check Stock

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Merlot tends to be more herbaceous in aroma than Cabernet Sauvignon. Other signature notes include plums, currants, black cherries, blackberries, vanilla, coconuts, violets, roses, cloves, bay leaves, green peppercorns, mushrooms, coffee, mocha, cedar, cigar box, bell pepper and green olive. Its color ranges from medium dark red to deep blue.

Merlot, with its juicy dark fruit flavors, pairs well with many meat dishes such as beef, cheese, poultry, borsch (beet soup), quesadillas, Tandoori-flavored dishes, game, lamb, pasta, pork, veal, lentil dishes and dark chocolate.