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.

Torres Merlot Atrium 2005
Penedes, Spain
Great value! A lovely rich and round red wine with luxurious layers of cherry, plum and chocolate. Full-bodied. Torres Merlot Atrium food pairings: red meat dishes, pork. Alcohol: 14%  Sweetness: Extra Dry  750 ml  Price: $15.15 Score: 89/100

This Torres Merlot Atrium was reviewed December 4, 2007 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 621755  Check Stock

Little Yering Cabernet Shiraz Merlot 2005
Blackberry liqueur and jam. If you want a palate-whacker and love jammy-ripe fruit, you've found your friend in this bottle. Lip-smacking tasty. Alcohol: 14.5%  Sweetness: Dry  750 ml  Price: $14.95 Score: 87/100

This Cabernet Shiraz Merlot was reviewed March 2, 2010 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 145326  Check Stock

Fifth Leg Shiraz Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Western Australia, Australia
A savoury, meaty, juicy red that's bursting with black plums and berries. There's a little mint on the nose which gives the wine a pleasant lift. Darkly concentrated, this is a terrific party wine. Start a party just by opening it. Shiraz Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon food pairings: lamb, roast beef, hambrugers. Alcohol: 14%  Sweetness: Extra Dry  750 ml  Drink: 2011‐2014  Heavenly Hamburger Wine  Price: $15.95 Score: 88/100

This Shiraz Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon was reviewed June 6, 2011 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 212605  Check Stock
BC: 112094  Check Stock

Maculan Brentino Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
I.G.T., Veneto, Italy
Smoky oak with big black brooding fruit. Full-bodied and husky -- great for big meat dishes. Alcohol: 13.5%  Sweetness: Dry  750 ml  Drink: 2012‐2015  Price: $18.95 Score: 88/100

This Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon was reviewed April 28, 2012 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 708297  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.