Merlot wines are some of the most grown types of red wines in the world. This creates incredible diversity in the quality of this popular red wine type on the market.
So -- what regions do you look for when buying it? Read on to uncover the key information you need to select one of the best on the market today.
This list starts with my favorite region for this popular red, Bordeaux. It is the most grown type of red in this famous region.
Many people still think Bordeaux wine is unreachable for the average wine lover. This used to be the case, but there are plenty of affordable bottles from Bordeaux on the market today. Many of these are also drinkable at a young age -- 2 to 5 years after bottling.
My absolute favorite AOC, or specific growing region, in Bordeaux for Merlot wine is Saint Emilion. You will find these are balanced -- no one characteristic stands out above the others -- and yet still affordable. You can find a really good Saint Emilion for $20 to $40 a bottle. Those labeled Saint Emilion Grand Cru are a step up in quality and are sold at a higher price.
Near Saint Emilion, you will find the Pomerol AOC. While this region also has some of the best, they are usually a little pricier. Chateau Petrus, for example, is in Pomerol and produces some of the most expensive bottles in the world -- ranging from $400 to more than a few thousand dollars each. Although you can find some less expensive Pomerol, most of it from this AOC is more expensive than those from Saint Emilion.
French labels typically do not include the type of red blend in the bottle. Instead, they label by region, so when looking for a great Bordeaux Merlot, you will want to look for something from either Saint Emilion or Pomerol. This way you know you will be buying a Bordeaux blend that is mainly Merlot wine.
Napa Valley in northern California grows a number of great reds. Even though they are mainly known for growing some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon, they also have a wide variety of great Merlot wines.
The typical ones from Napa Valley are medium bodied wines. These are more fruit forward than the French versions.
This region is large, so you will find a wide variance on quality and prices for this wine here. Some of my favorite producers are:
Columbia Valley in Washington State is another region that grows some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon. However, in the last decade, their Merlot is also starting to get noticed.
The majority of the vines in Washington grows in its large Columbia Valley region. This creates quite a bit of diversity in the selection of reds from here.
The region is successful with reds due the long, sunny days during growing season. The grapes receive plenty of sunshine, but the temperature stays moderate. The region also gets very little rain during the growing season which stresses the vines and creates highly concentrated wines.
The Walla Walla Valley sub-region has some of the best Merlot wines. With few wineries, these are harder to find, but worth the price if you can get your hands on them.
Here are some top producers to search for when buying from Columbia Valley:
Sonoma County in Northern California is the next region on the list. Within Sonoma County, you will find thirteen sub-regions. Each region has a speciality with quite a few producers focusing on this red.
The Merlot wines from Sonoma County are medium bodied and full of ripe red fruits. They are easy to find and some great values are still available.
Three sub-regions with some great Merlots are Alexander Valley, Chalk Hill and Bennett Valley. Look for these regions or the words "Sonoma County" on the label when buying.
Some top producers in Sonoma County are:
Another area that recently started to grow more is Chile. This small country in South America has a number of great reds. Here you can find some of the best Merlot wines. The great thing is that you can also grab them up at a reasonable price.
Even though they are at a great value, not as many are available as other Merlot wines on this list. However, as their popularity increases, so does their availability.
The Merlot wines from Chile are lighter bodied with lots of red berry fruit flavors. You won't find as much complexity in these as others on the list, but they deserve their spot here. Keep your eye on the Merlots in Chile as the quality of them continues to increase.
Here are some of the producers to look for when buying from Chile:
It's easy to buy Merlot wine online. Several retailers provide a great selection of the wines from the regions listed above. Some wineries have limited distribution or only sell their wines directly from their website. If you are unable to find the winery you like here, then head directly to their site for more details on how to find their wines.
These links will take you directly to the Merlot wines for the regions mentioned above:
Discover even more information about the regions featured in this article:
Old World vs New World: What is the difference between old world and new world wines? What countries fall into each category? Read on for answer to these questions and more about both old and new world wines.
Ordering in a Restaurant: Do you love trying new wines, but are a little intimidated when ordering in a restaurant? Here you will not only find information for ordering, but also other tips to help you sample the wine. You will also learn how to effectively use the wait staff to expertly pair your wine with your dinner.
Tasting Party Ideas: Do you love throwing parties? If so, here you will discover some great tasting party ideas. Get tips for setting your budget and determining how much wine to have on hand for the party.
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