The 15 Best Merlot You Should Drink in 2022

Merlot
This is our review of the 15 Best Merlot you should drink this year. Enjoy!

Merlot is the second most widely planted grape in the world. You can find Merlot as a single varietal or blended with other grapes.

It can produce both light to medium body wines with red fruit and herbaceous flavors, as well as medium to full body wines, velvety tannins, with pronounced black fruit flavors and chocolate notes.

Have you ever found yourself staring at many Merlot bottles wondering which one you would like best?

After an extensive research, we have picked a selection of the 15 best Merlot you can find right now.
 
As always we try our best to find high quality wine that offers great value for money and I must confess I’m quite happy with the research and work done. 
 
We have categorized them by regions, price point, etc.. and added an extensive buying guide so that you have all you need to make an informed decision.
 
Our best budget bottle for you is J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines Los Osos Merlot 2017 .
 
Our best value bottle selection for you is Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot 2018.
 
If you are after the best overall bottle, our recommendation is Château La Fleur-Pétrus Pomerol 2011.
 
You’ll find the table of content below. Let’s start with the review!
4.5/5

Vivino’s tips: Good value for money. Similar wines usually cost 50% more.

Region: France, Pomerol

Tasting notes: Blackberry, Dark Cherry, Plum, Oak, Tobacco, Leather, Licorice.

On the nose a tight core of black fruits, blackcurrants and dark cherries. Beautifully textured on the palate, sweet and quite fleshy, supple and flattering.

Lots of ripe tannins but they are very well hidden by this layer of fruit, with a lovely sense of grip coming in. Great acidity at the core.

Wonderful structure and balance here, and an elegant substance to the finish.

It is sometimes on offer on Vivino, if you are lucky, be quick and grab at least one bottle for a special occasion!

4.3/5

Vivino’s tips: 90 by Wine Enthusiast

Region: United States, Napa Valley.

Tasting notes:
Plum, Cherry, Licorice, Leather,  Tobacco, Cardamom, Spice.

Here is from the Vivino’s Editor’s note: “If You Close Your Eyes You Might Think You’re in Bordeaux, But This Knockout Merlot is 100% Napa—From The Estate That Redefined the Noble Grape in California”

Aromatic, with vibrant red fruit layers of Rainier cherry and spiced plum, as well as notes of licorice, tobacco leaf, cardamom and thyme.

Hints of cedar, leather and savory spice from ageing in French oak barrels contribute depth and nuance, while a streak of uplifting acidity adds dimension to this wine’s smooth velvety texture. Dusty tannins frame a sophisticated finish.

4/5

Vivino’s tips: Good value for money. Similar wines usually cost 77% more.

Region: United States, Paso Robles

Tasting notes: Blackberry, Plum, Cherry, Oak, Violet.

For the price is wine is a bargain! Be quick before it’s too late…

The wine presents a mature red color with a raspberry hue. Red fruit aromas of plum and pomegranate are integrated with a barrel signature of dark chocolate and baking spice.

Whole berry fermentation with a generous use of Malbec as a blender accentuates the brighter fruit tones of Merlot and leaves ripe, soft tannins on the palate.

4.4/5

Vivino’s tips: 94 by Jeff Leve (2007 Vintage)

Region: United States, Napa Valley

Tasting notes:
Blackberry, Plum, Cherry, Raspberry, Vanilla, Oak, Chocolate,  Spice, Licorice.

This wine featured in Vivino’s 2020 Wine Style Awards: Californian Merlot (2014 Vintage) and the 2007 Vintage got 94 point by Jeff Leve.

I’m not sure about you but I’m already sold 🤩!

Indigo at the core with garnet edges, this Merlot leads with aromas of candied violet, red plum, and ripe fig.

Flavors of dark red cherry and raspberry, layers of deep blue fruits and notes of savory grilled herbs lead to the finish.

4/5

Vivino’s tips: Good value for money. Similar wines usually cost 58% more.

Region: United States, Sonoma County

Tasting notes: Blackberry, Plum, Cherry, Oak, Vanilla, Leather, Pepper

If you are after a very good entry-level Merlot California style, this is your wine.

It offers a great value for money that is hard to match!
Expect intense dark fruit, cherry, oak, vanilla, and pepper.

4.1/5

Vivino’s tips: Great value for money. Similar wines usually cost 2 times as much.

Region: United States, Wahluke Slope

Tasting notes: Blackberry, Plum, Cherry, Vanilla, Oak, Chocolate, Cocoa, Earthy.

This is yet another incredible value for money bottle, this time from the Washington area. Be quick before it runs out…

Bright fruit character of cherry and blackcurrant with hints of cocoa. Finishes with a rich, silky mouthfeel thanks to the soft tannins.

4.3/5

Vivino’s tips: Rated (94 – 97) by Robert Parker

Region: France, Margaux

Tasting notes: Black Raspberry, Blackberry, Cherry, Incense, Smoke, Spring Flowers.

If Merlot French style is what you are after, this is one of the best wine you can find at this price point.

Here an extract from the Vivino’s Editor note: “Cellar Showpiece Red—A Chance to Take Home What Just Might Be “the Greatest Lascombes Made” According to Robert Parker! Only 100 Bottles of Château Lascombes Margaux 2010 Available!”

This wine exhibits a deep blue/purple hue along with a sweet perfume of blueberries, black raspberries, cherries, incense, smoke, and spring flowers.

While opulent, underneath the full-bodied richness of fruit and depth, is a structured wine.

4.5/5

Vivino’s tips: Vivino’s Editor note: “Tuscany’s 97-Point Answer to Bordeaux’s Right Bank!”

Region: Italy, Toscana

Tasting notes: Blackberry, Blackcurrant, Plum, Cassis, Chocolate, Coffee, Caramel, Licorice, Tobacco.

If Merlot Italian style is what you are after, this is one of the best wine you can find at this price point.

Here is an extract from the Vivino’s Editor note: 
“Tuscany’s 97-Point Answer to Bordeaux’s Right Bank! Collection-Defining Release from the Family Behind Ornellaia & Masseto. Crafted Under Celebrated 100-Point Winemaker Michel Rolland. Just 5 Cases for the Taking.”

Cherries, black currants, blackberries, chocolate, coffee, black pepper. Velvety tannins and a good acidity give backbone and structure to the rich flavors.

The wine has a seamless balance with a long and fine finish.

4.2/5

Region: Spain, Ribera del Duero

Tasting notes: Blueberry, Blackcurrant, Cherry, Vanilla, Oak, Leather.

It has dark red, intense and bright cherry. Elegance and austerity, complex, full of fruit nuances.

Aromas of fine wines of the Ribera del Duero. It has an impressive depth with hints of dark fruit, toast and cherry liqueur.

Tasty and fresh, smooth, fine and elegant, with a nice balance, achieving a feeling of great wine.

4.2/5

Region: Australia, McLaren Vale

Tasting notes: Blackberry, Plum, Cherry, Licorice, Cacao.

If you fancy Australian style Merlot this bottle will pleasantly surprise you!

This is tight, lithe and elegant: a composed and dignified Merlot with only the faintest initial glimpse of anything resembling mellow.

It smells comforting at first, but as the drinker delves, the bouquet unveils mossy, damp forest earth, and then fresher, leafy greens emerge with their tannins.

3.9/5

Vivino’s tips: Popular among Vivino users. More than 500 ratings

Region: South Africa, Cape Town

Tasting notes: Blackberry, Plum, Red Fruit, Oak, Mocha, Vanilla, Cedar.

It is a full bodied wine filled with a combination of different berries.

On the nose Mulberry raspberry and blackberry fruit accompanied by licorice and mocha flavors that carry through on palate well supported by firm French oak tannins.

It’s the typical wine for a casual dinner and an affordable option if you want to try a different Merlot style.

3.9/5

Region: Chile, Apalta Valley

Tasting notes: Blackberry, Plum, Cassis, Cherry, Oak,  Vanilla, Pepper.

Ruby red color with aromas of red fruit such as raspberry and strawberry with fresh herbs aromas and earthy toast notes.

Medium bodied wine with a silky texture, with round and juicy tannins. Cassis and coffee beans notes provide the finish.

This is yet another good and affordable wine that will allow you discover another Merlot style.

4.6/5

Vivino’s tips: Good value for money. Similar wines usually cost 88% more.

Region: Italy, Bolgheri

Tasting notes: Blackberry, Plum, Dark Fruit, Red Fruit, Oak, Chocolate, Vanilla, Pepper, Violet.

This Italian Bolgheri offers tremendous value for money. In the words of Vivino’s Editor: “An Approachable, Affordable Alternative to Guado al Tasso”. Don’t wait too long…

Marchesi Antinori’s passion for viticulture is expressed through perseverance: their continuous pursuit for quality improvement, even in the smallest details.

This wine is velvety, elegant, smooth and complex. For this price range, it’s a gift!

4.2/5

Vivino’s tips: 94 points by Robert Parker

Region: Italy, Maremma Toscana

Tasting notes: Blackberry, Plum, Dark Cherry Oak, Tobacco, Leather, Licorice.

This is one of our favorite Tuscan Bordeaux Blend you can find at this price range.

So we were quite pleased when we find out that this wine isn’t just very popular and appreciated in the Vivino’s community, it’s also vouched for by Vivino’s Editor.

Here is an extract from his Editor’s note: “This Classic Tuscan Producer’s New 94-Point Endeavor is a Bold Take on the Bordeaux Blend that Makes the Best of its Unique Seaside Terroir”

Expect full and seductive body, dark spice flavors, enveloping and long taste. 

4.6/5

Vivino’s tips: Winner of Vivino’s 2020 Wine Style Awards: Bordeaux Pessac-Léognan (1989 Vintage)

Region: France, Pessac-Léognan

Tasting notes: Leather, Earthy, Smoke, Tobacco, Cedar.

You have probably heard the name but have not seen a bottle around. That’s ok you are in good company… This is the Ferrari of Merlot. And don’t worry, it’s not the most expensive Merlot you can find.

You can still buy very old vintages like 1953 from Vivino, rated 95 points by Jeff Leve, up to most recent dates.

It goes without saying, handle and store very old vintages properly, so that you can experience them at their best when it’s time.

2014 still offers a pretty good value for money in relative’s term. The same goes 2016 vintage which have been rated 100 by Wine Enthusiast.

What to expect? Well, it very much depends on the vintage and how the wine has evolved.

Broadly speaking expect a very elegant, rich in flavor, and complex wine. You’ll feel the tannins, even after many years, so not super smooth.

Leather, Earthy, Smoke, Tobacco, Cedar and Black Fruit will be some of the most common flavors. One of a kind, for a very special occasion!

Buying Guide to Merlot

It’s not just about which Merlot you should buy. There are other important aspects like how to serve it, food pairings, and much more. The below buying guide will give you a detailed overview of all these topics.

Merlot Overview

Here you find an overview of where Merlot is most commonly planted.

Grape

Merlot

ABV

13%–14.5%

Main Regions

France: Bordeaux

Other Regions

Chile
Italy
New Zealand
South Africa
USA: California, Washington

Grape

Merlot

ABV

13%–14.5%

Main Regions

France: Bordeaux

Other Regions

Chile
Italy
New Zealand
South Africa
USA: California, Washington

Merlot Taste Profile

These are some of the most common aromas and flavors of Merlot.

Color

Medium to Deep Ruby

Nose

Mint, Black Tea
Herbaceous
Raspberry (unripe)
Black Cherry, Plum (overripe)

Palate

Red Fruit (unripe)
Black Fruit (ripe)
Cocoa, Graphite
Chocolate, Mocha
Dry
Medium Acidity
Medium Tannins
Medium-Full Body

Color

Medium to Deep Ruby

Nose

Mint, Black Tea
Herbaceous
Raspberry (unripe)
Black Cherry, Plum (overripe)

Palate

Red Fruit (unripe)
Black Fruit (ripe)
Cocoa, Graphite
Chocolate, Mocha
Dry
Medium Acidity
Medium Tannins
Medium-Full Body

Merlot Food Pairing

These are some food pairing suggestions for Merlot.

Appetizer

Mushroom Pizza,
Penne alla Boscaiola,
Ratatouille,
Bean Dishes

Meat

Turkey
Roast Veal
Braised Veal
Pork Loin
Venison
Duck
Burgers

Fish

-

Cheese

Bloomy Rind (Camembert),
Blue Cheese (Gorgonzola),
Hard (Parmigiano Reggiano)

Appetizer

Mushroom Pizza,
Penne alla Boscaiola,
Ratatouille,
Bean Dishes

Meat

Turkey
Roast Veal
Braised Veal
Pork Loin
Venison
Duck
Burgers

Fish

-

Cheese

Bloomy Rind (Camembert),
Blue Cheese (Gorgonzola),
Hard (Parmigiano Reggiano)

Serve and Store Merlot

Here you find some useful tips on how to serve and store Merlot.

Decant

30 mins

Glass

Bordeaux

Serve at

59 - 64 °F
15 - 18 °C

Store for

3-5 years
10+ years finest bottles only

Decant

30 mins

Glass

Bordeaux

Serve at

59 - 64 °F
15 - 18 °C

Store for

3-5 years
10+ years finest bottles only

Merlot Styles

Regions and winemaking techniques influence Merlot taste profiles. Here is a quick overview of the main regions and what to expect:

  • New World: The tendency is to overripe the grapes to get a fuller body, high alcohol, softer tannins, and intense black fruit flavors.

  • Old World: The tendency is to harvest earlier to get a medium body, higher acidity, moderate alcohol, and red fruit and herbaceous flavors.

Like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot is usually blended with other grapes to soften their taste profile and structure. Bordeaux wines are the most famous blend.

Our Verdict

Merlot is the second most widely planted grape in the world. You can find Merlot as a single varietal or blended with other grapes.

If you have been through the buying guide, you should have a pretty good idea of how to navigate the Merlot world.
 
At the same time, you have probably realized by now, that there’s a huge selection, many styles, and various price points.
 
The good news is that you can get very high quality usually at a good price if you know where to look!
 
That’s why proper guidance comes in handy. We hope our guide was helpful in this regard.
 
Our best budget bottle for you is J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines Los Osos Merlot 2017 .
 
Our best value bottle selection for you is Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot 2018.
 
If you are after the best overall bottle, our recommendation is Château La Fleur-Pétrus Pomerol 2011.
 
As always, make sure to serve your Cabernet Sauvignon at the right temperature and with the proper glass.

What to do next?

Do you want an easy and practical guide to learning the most important differences between Merlot and other famous grapes? Check these guides out

Check out our full wine reviews to discover new great wines for your to try.

Alternatively, why don’t you check out our Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah/Shiraz, or Sauvignon Blanc guides?

FAQ

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about Merlot.

What does Merlot mean?

The common assumption, based on the grape color, is that “Merlot” is the diminutive of “merle”, i.e. the French name for the blackbird.

What is Merlot history?

Merlot is an offspring of Cabernet Franc [1] and it’s related to Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère [2] and Malbec. Its origin was discovered in the late 1990s, at the University of California, Davis [3].

The first Merlot trace we have is from the 1780s in the Bordeaux region in France. It appears it was used as a blend for a local Bordeaux production. By the 19th century, it became very popular in France, Italy, and Switzerland. As Bordeaux became a popular wine, Merlot did too. 

In the US it has become an important grape across California, Washington State, and New York. Merlot is today the second most widely planted grape in the world.

Where does Merlot grow best?

Merlot is planted all over the world given its versatility. Merlot gives it best in moderate to warm climates. Climates will have a direct effect on the Merlot taste profile. Here is a quick overview:

  • Cool Climates – Bordeaux: ruby color, light-medium body, higher acidity, red fruit (raspberry, cherry) flavors with tertiary notes of spice, leather, coffee, and licorice.

  • Warm Climates – California: deep ruby color, medium-full body, pronounced black fruit (blackberry, blueberry, plum) flavors, velvety tannins with tertiary notes of vanilla, coconut, and smoke.

When is the perfect time to drink Merlot?

Given its versatility, every occasion is a good occasion for a Merlot as long as your event is not 100% fish-based. Even during summertime, if you go for the lighter Merlot version, it’s still very enjoyable and a good alternative to Pinot Noir.

Is Merlot sweet?

Merlot is not sweet. It is a dry wine which means it contains less than 15 g/L, or sugar per liter. Learn more about wine sweetness level here.

When is the Merlot day?

There is an International Merlot day and it’s the 7th November.

What's the most famous Merlot blend?

One of the most famous Merlot blend is Bordeaux wine. Merlot is part of the so called six “Bordeaux Varietals”. These are: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot [4].

What are Super Tuscan wines?

Have you ever heard of “Super Tuscan” wines? Well, this is yet another famous Cabernet Sauvignon blend with Merlot and Syrah/Shiraz. “Super Tuscan” is the name used to differentiate them from the other Tuscan wine made with indigenous grapes, like Chianti.

How do you distinguish Cabernet Sauvignon from Merlot in a blind tasting?

A blind taste with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon will be a tricky one! They are quite similar. A quick hint is to look for fewer tannins and chocolate notes, and most of the time you’ve got a Merlot!

Which movie made a bad publicity on Merlot?

Have you ever seen the movie Sideways [5]? Well, rumors are that Merlot sales dropped by 2% because of the bad publicity in the movie.

What’s Merlot's typical price range?

There’s a Merlot for every pocket. Broadly speaking this what you can expect by price range:

  • $15-$30: Good entry-level Merlot between $15-$30 from Italy, France, Chile, California.

  • $30-$100: great bottles from California, Washington, France, and Italy.

  • $100+: outstanding bottles from Italy and France. Petrus is probably the most famous example of luxury Merlot wine with a price in the thousands.

Why You Can Trust Us?

Wine is our passion and our mission is to make the world of wine more accessible to you and by doing so enhancing your experience.

We try our best to find high quality wines that offer great value for money so that they have a light weight on your wallet as well!🤩

Finally, all the content we publish on this site has been written or overseen by wine certificate holders, which ensures a high quality content.

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