Warp Speed to Flavor: Top 11 US Natural Merlots
Captain’s log, Stardate 9862.5: The Voyage into the Heart of American Merlot
Ah, so you’ve set your course to the Merlot system, a veritable constellation in the vast universe of American wines. As an ardent explorer, you’ll find yourself in good company. This celestial body has long attracted fellow wine-loving astronauts with its irresistible gravitational pull, drawing us into a world of soft textures and complex taste profiles, a world perfectly calibrated for a range of planetary feasts and cosmic gatherings.
Navigating Merlot’s Cosmic Characteristics
Now, let’s fine-tune our sensors and delve deeper into the mysteries of the Merlot system. Here you’ll find a celestial ballet of luscious fruit flavors, with black cherry, plum, and blackberry stars twinkling against a backdrop of chocolate comets and cedar asteroids. This is a medium to full-bodied quadrant of the wine universe, where soft tannins orbit around a velvety texture that’s been the siren song for wine explorers from every corner of the cosmos.
The Ascendancy of American Merlot
As we chart a course through the history of American wine, it’s clear that Merlot has been on a trajectory of exponential growth. Over the last few space-time continuums, Merlot has exploded in popularity in the United States, becoming one of the most widely cultivated red grape varieties.
It has colonized diverse regions, from the sun-drenched vineyards of California to the lush valleys of Washington State and the fertile plains of Oregon. These brave new worlds each lend their unique terroir to the wines, creating a tapestry of high-quality Merlots that reflect the cosmic diversity of the American wine landscape.
1: Frog’s Leap Merlot 2018, Napa Valley, California – $35
Frog’s Leap is a renowned winery in Napa Valley that is committed to sustainable farming and winemaking practices. Their Merlot is a beautiful expression of the variety, with rich black fruit flavors, hints of chocolate, and a smooth, supple texture. The wine is produced using organic and biodynamic methods, ensuring a pure and vibrant taste that showcases the best of Napa Valley terroir.
2: Leonetti Cellar Merlot, Walla Walla Valley, Washington – $85
The Leonetti Cellar Merlot hails from Walla Walla Valley, a region acclaimed for its robust red wines. Known for its depth and complexity, this Merlot boasts flavors of black cherry, currants, and hints of tobacco. Grown with a sustainable approach, this bottle offers an authentic taste of Washington’s wine prowess.
3: Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot, Napa Valley, California – $50
Duckhorn Vineyards, one of the pioneers in Napa Valley, offers a Merlot that’s full-bodied and velvety. With its complex layers of black cherry, plum, and subtle spice, it’s a testament to the winery’s dedication to quality. Adhering to sustainable farming practices, this bottle embodies the essence of Napa Valley terroir.
4: Northstar Merlot, Columbia Valley, Washington – $40
Northstar Winery in Washington State has been dedicated to producing world-class Merlot for over 20 years. Their Columbia Valley Merlot offers flavors of black cherry, plum, and mocha with a touch of oak. Grown in sustainable vineyards, this wine is a testament to the winery’s dedication to natural winemaking.
5: Shafer Vineyards TD-9, Napa Valley, California – $60
TD-9 is a Merlot-dominant blend from the famed Shafer Vineyards. This wine is all about complexity and balance. With notes of blackberries, plums, and savory spices, it’s rich and full-bodied. The vineyard practices sustainable farming, contributing to the wine’s pure expression of fruit and terroir.
6: L’Ecole No. 41 Merlot, Walla Walla Valley, Washington – $35
L’Ecole No. 41 has been a pioneer in Washington State winemaking since the 1980s. Their Merlot offers layers of black cherry, blueberry, and cocoa flavors, wrapped in a silky texture. As a sustainable winery, L’Ecole No. 41 reflects its commitment to nature in each bottle.
7: St. Supéry Merlot, Napa Valley, California – $50
St. Supéry’s Merlot is a wine of elegance and depth. It’s characterized by dark fruit flavors and notes of mocha and toasted oak. The winery is committed to sustainable farming and winemaking practices, making this a guilt-free indulgence for natural wine lovers.
8: Paloma Merlot, Napa Valley, California – $90
Paloma Vineyard’s Merlot is one of the most acclaimed in California. It’s a full-bodied, complex wine with flavors of black cherry, plum, and chocolate. The vineyards are sustainably farmed, highlighting the winery’s commitment to producing quality wine with minimal environmental impact.
9: Robert Mondavi Winery Merlot, Napa Valley, California – $25
Robert Mondavi Winery is synonymous with quality Napa Valley wines. Their Merlot is no exception, delivering ripe plum, blackberry, and mocha notes with velvety tannins. Produced sustainably, this wine truly encapsulates the richness of California’s wine country.
10: Seven Hills Winery Merlot, Walla Walla Valley, Washington – $45
Seven Hills Winery, one of Walla Walla Valley’s oldest wineries, produces a balanced and elegant Merlot. Its flavor profile of ripe red fruits, sweet spices, and subtle oak is a delight for the palate. The winery’s commitment to sustainable farming ensures the wine’s authenticity and quality.
11: Pride Mountain Vineyards Merlot, Napa Valley, California – $60
Pride Mountain Vineyards is perched high on the Mayacamas Mountains straddling Napa and Sonoma counties. Their Merlot is renowned for its bold, expressive flavors of black cherry, blueberry, and chocolate. The vineyard’s dedication to sustainable practices reflects in the purity and intensity of this impressive wine.