Home Varietals Merlot 15 Good Merlots Under $15

Cono Sur Merlot

Over the past several weeks I’ve posted a number of reviews for Merlot.  I feel sorry for Merlot.  It’s gotten an undeserved reputation as a boring wine.  This is mostly due to the movie Sideways, and American’s tendency to foolishly be influenced by anything they see on screen.  Let me set the record straight, Merlot can be exciting and Merlot can be exceptional.  If my word isn’t enough and you need to see this message on screen, then check out the movie Merlove… it’s all about Merlot and explores how great it can be.

After I do a series of reviews I like to do a summary to see how all the wines stacked up, and to give you a quick reference for some you may want to try.  Here’s the results of the latest Merlot reviews.

Top Picks

One of the things I enjoyed about this series of reviews is that there were quite a few that I liked a lot.  Another thing that I enjoyed is the variety in the style of these different Merlots.  And the top three, each with a score of 89 points, all present a slightly different style.  I recommend any of these depending on your preferences.

Oyster Bay Merlot

My personal favorite brings a little dirty characteristic to the wine.  The 2006 Oyster Bay Merlot has perfumey floral, herbal and fruit aromas that I found to be enjoyable and interesting.  The palate goes from raspberry, to cherry, to licorice.  It’s a great Merlot for $14.99.

If your preference is a big and juicy Merlot, bursting with plum, cherry, blackberry and cocoa flavors then try a Chilean Merlot.  All the Merlot from Chile that I tried was big and juicy, but the best was the 2005 Cono Sur Visión Merlot for a very affordable $11.99.

And finally, if elegance is what you seek then go with the 2005 Alexander Valley Vineyards Merlot.  You’ll find clove, violets, dark cherry and raspberry on the nose, with licorice, ripe fruit and black pepper on the palate.

Best Value

The honor of “best value Merlot” goes to the 2006 Red Truck.  It’s a fairly simple and predictable Merlot, but still good.  Raspberry and plum are the main features in this wine, but a touch of vanilla adds a little bit of interest.  And at $7.69 how can you complain about a tasty Merlot?

The Ratings

Here’s how the top 15 good, cheap Merlots stack up.  These are ordered first by rating, then by price.





Cono Sur Vision 2005 89 $11.99
Alexander Valley Vineyards 2005 89 $13.98
Oyster Bay 2006 89 $14.99
Montes 2006 88 $12.00
Redwood Creek 2004 87 $11.00
Montegras 2007 87 $11.99
Red Truck 2006 86 $7.69
Fat Bastard 2007 86 $9.99
Carmenet Vintner’s Collection Reserve 2007 86 $11.00
McWilliams Hanwood Estate 2006 86 $12.00
Sebastiani Sonoma County 2004 86 $14.97
Red Rock 2006 85 $12.00
Dancing Bull 2006 85 $12.00
Barefoot N/V 83 $6.99
Murphy Goode – Goode-Ready 2004 82 $11.99
5 replies to this post
  1. I would add the 2005 Sebastian Sonoma County Merlot to your list–at the top of your list, in fact, at a 90+. It’s very vibrant, fruit forward and complex.
    Priced between $12 and $15.

  2. Correction: I meant the Sonoma County Merlot 2005 by Sebastiani, not Sebastian. Still available and quite the sleeper. Aromas and flavors of spiced dark fruit revealing gracefully restrained power and depth; no rough edges.Head & shoulders above the 2004 Sebastiani Sonoma County, IMHO.

  3. Thanks for the list, I am looking for a Merlot for this week. I have trouble finding one to my liking and it seems like our palates and budgets are close.

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