Top Merlot From $15 to $20

A collection of Merlots that fall into GDP's value sweet spot


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Top Merlot From $15 to $20 I often say that the sweet spot for wine falls roughly in the $15 to $25 range. In this range, you can find producers who are out of favor, undiscovered, or working in regions that, for some reason, lack prestige yet produce wines that are equal of bottlings priced at double or triple.
I have also been touting the comeback of Merlot for some time. In truth, there are many great values out there, but this tasting does highlight at least one of the pitfalls that face wine consumers today. Frankly, some producers do not need to raise the quality or change the style of their wines. They are doing fine with what they produce and pleasing consumers, if not critics.
That puts me in a bit of a sticky position. It’s no secret that my tastes run somewhat counter to fruit-forward, popularly styled wines. I like a little bite in my wines and favor complexity over intensity of fruit. Fortunately for all involved, today we have both styles of Merlot. Gobstoppers for the fruit-forward crowd, plus a fine selection of otherwise interesting wines that please palates like mine. This dichotomy is just another reason for my new wine reviewing system, which I will explain in more detail on the next slide. I hope to be able to better serve you, the reader, by giving more simplified recommendations that are easy to understand while continuing to review each wine as honestly as my palate allows.

Merlot image via Shutterstock

Top 7 Merlot From $15-$20

Waterstone Merlot Napa Valley (2008)
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Charles Krug Winery Peter Mondavi Family Merlot Napa Valley (2009)
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Rutherford Ranch Merlot (2008)
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Mcconnell Estates Winery Merlot Wackman Ranch (2008)
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Charles Krug Winery Peter Mondavi Family Merlot Napa Valley (2008)
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Mcconnell Estates Winery Merlot Wackman Ranch (2007)
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Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon (2010)
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  • Snooth User: steve666
    392767 156

    Bravo on the simplified assessments. Not only are they more understandable, it is far quicker and clearer. The link to "full review" is a nice idea, but the link I followed brought me to a visually confusing page where the review was quite a ways down the page. Yes, I understand this is done to enable Snooth to please the wineries and generate more click through business for Snooth, but it is rather annoying. Put the full review in a cleaner simplified page and it ultimately will be more effective. Simply put, I doubt I will read any full reviews unless I am really interested in a wine, under a more readable format I would red most of them.

    Oct 09, 2012 at 4:21 PM

  • Snooth User: Goodlife11
    457084 324

    I appreciate the effort here, but I think part of the romance of wine has to do with all the 'descriptives' that are included in the 'full review.' I think visitors to Snooth are looking for that level of details, as opposed to a few mentions of low/medium/high on a sliding scale. I actually don't read these reviews any longer, because I don't feel I get as much. That being said, I bypass them for the full review, so thanks for including that link. See what the crowd says and go from there I guess.

    Oct 09, 2012 at 6:15 PM

  • Cheers to your honesty and integrity Greg!. Maybe I'll find some Merlot I like, thanks to you. Oh, and I'm expecting delivery of my new 150 (?) bottle cabinet this Thursday. I'm sure I have enough top shelf wines to fill it, but the inventory has to rotate, and I have little money. Thank you again for years of insight.

    Oct 09, 2012 at 7:48 PM

  • Snooth User: teddz
    880703 39

    I've recently tasted through some low priced 2009 Bordeaux, and find lots of nice fruit (along with bordelais structure of course) in wines that are high in Merlot from that vintage. A nice one in this price range is Chateau Marjosse ($18 in Ohio where I am), 80% merlot, so close enough for this category. A Lurton property, so the winemaking is solid, if not flamboyant. I think it would compare favorably with the reviews I see here (and I wonder why nothing from Bordeaux on the list?)

    Oct 10, 2012 at 2:35 PM

  • Hi, Gregory. I like your experiment and the straight-forward language! If you decide to continue with this I'd like to suggest that you add typicity

    Oct 10, 2012 at 8:35 PM

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