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Suggest a good CA/WA merlot?

I'm looking to add some domestic merlot to my cellar, but I could use some suggestions. What producers do you like in the $15-$35 range? I guess I'm looking for something soft, with limited tannin, but not a "fruit bomb" either.

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  1. Storrs Winery in Santa Cruz has been a consistent favorite of mine for quite some time -- like maybe 12-15 years now. (Warning: in the spirit of full disclosure, I used to work for Storrs 1990-1995; however, I pay full retail and STILL buy it!) ;^)

    L'Ecole No. 41 from Washington is another one of my favorites.

    Both, IMHO, are worth seeking out regardless of price. The fact that they're in your price range makes them all that much better.

    1. I've enjoyed the merlot from Robert Sinskey, but don't have the price off the top of my head.

      1. I'm not sure it's cellar-worthy, but I'm interested to hear what people think of the J. Lohr Paso Robles merlot. I've taken to it as a nice default house wine when nothing else looks interesting at the supermarket.

        1. Columbia Crest has a lot of fans and it's cheap.

          1. northstar merlot from washington is a bit on the high end, but earthy and rich.

            pine ridge {ca} makes nice merlot, look for the "crimson creek" label.

            1. What you have described is the Sagelands Merlot from the Columbia Valley in WA. One of our go-to wines in the cellar.

              1. For a merlot from WA (Columbia Valley)I like Nelms Road, it is part of the Woodward Canyon Winery but at a more reasonable price. From CA (Napa Valley) I like the Oberon. Both should be in your price range.

                1. Thanks for all the suggestions - I will seek them out. Three cheers for chowhound!

                  1. You might also look for Pepper Bridge Winery and Seven Hills Cellars, both from Washington.

                    1. Brander Merlot in California is very good.
                      Washington Merlots are coming along well, although many prefer the Cab/Merlot blends (in particular Cadence is phenomenal).

                      1. Shafer Merlot and Steltzer Merlot are my two favorites. Both are closer to $40, but worth every penny. the wineries are neighbors in Stag's Leap District. i hope i don't get scolded for saying this; however, i don't know how else to describe them except that they drink like cabs. also, Swanson makes an awesome Merlot; it's a little softer than Shafer and Stelzner, it's very approachable. Keenan's 2001 Merlot is amazing as well!

                        1. My favorite WA producers (most have merlots under $30):

                          Amavi (Pepper Bridge's less expensive sister and excellent)
                          Woodward Canyon
                          Bergevin Lane
                          Saviah Cellars
                          L'Ecole 41
                          Fielding Hills

                          Value producers:
                          Columbia Crest (esp. Grand Estates Merlot)

                          www.avalonwine.com has a great selection of WA and NW wines. Many of the higher quality producers are hard to find outside of WA so you might check them out (I have no affiliation with them).

                          1. At the upper end of your price-point, I'd look at the Joseph Phelps Napa Merlot. J. Phelps doesn't do a bad wine and their Merlot is top-notch for the P-P. Groth Napa is also good and at US$35 fits into the list. For a few bucks more, both the Duckhorn Napa and the Beringer Howell Mtn. Bancroft Ranch, are well worth the $, though in the US$40-50 range. IMO, either can show what a great domestic (US) Merlot can be.

                            I have, so far, been underwhelmed at the WA and most CA Merlots. I'd rather spend the extra $ and get a "serious" one. I'm sure that I have missed some great buys, but, after years of attempts, have been left wanting.


                            1. In your price range, Chateau St. Jean, Sonoma had been my favorite until a local wine shop introduced me to deLorimier, Estate, Alexander Valley from Geyserville, CA. This is a somewhat complex merlot, which is a word I would not normally associate with merlot.

                              1. I drink too much wine to spend US$40-50 for domestic merlot. I often buy W. B. Bridgman Merlot Yakima Valley, available at Corridor Wines for US$12-15.