The days are long and hot, so it’s only natural fruity rosés and crisp white are the drink of choice. But sometimes, you just want a a glass of red. Why not reach for Merlot?
Golan Heights Winery 2014 Yarden Merlot (Galilee); $31, 91 points. Dark red-violet in the glass, this wine has cherry and orange rind aromas. It fills the palate with flavors of black cherry, pomegranate, orange and aniseed, offering velvety tannins and a smooth finish. —Mike Desimone
Beauregard 2014 Zayante Vineyard Merlot (Santa Cruz Mountains); $35, 91 points. Light aromas of carnation and snappy black raspberry meet with the elegant touch of bay leaf on the nose of this cool-climate Merlot. Its grapes grow on a southwest-facing orientation, which is the only reason they get ripe at all. The palate’s red-currant and cherry tones are overcome by herbal touches of bay, juniper and mint, wrapped in zesty acidity. —Matt Kettmann
J. Bookwalter 2015 Readers Merlot (Columbia Valley); $28, 90 points. Most of the fruit for this wine comes from a block of Conner-Lee Vineyard planted in 1992. Somewhat light in color, it offers appealing raspberry, chocolate, dried herb and spice aromas and soft, supple fruit flavors, with light savory herb accents from the addition of 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Juicy fruit flavors linger on the finish. It shows lovely balance and texture. —Sean P. Sullivan
Clos La Chance 2016 Estate Vineyards Merlot (Central Coast); $25, 89 points. Fairly light and restrained on the nose, this bottling from a winery founded in 1987 offers pleasant tones of vanilla, red cherry and baked cranberry on the nose. The palate is fresh, with tight red-currant and baking spice flavors that are framed by grippy tannins. —M.K.
Barnard Griffin 2015 Merlot (Columbia Valley); $17, 88 points. This wine’s blueberry, herb and barrel spice aromas are appealing. Its fruit flavors are light in style and glide toward the finish. It’s an enjoyable, straightfoward Merlot. —S.P.S.
Abeja 2015 Merlot (Columbia Valley); $45, 88 points. This wine’s plum, black raspberry and spice aromas are followed by light fruit flavors speckled with vanilla accents. The tannins bring a light grip, with lingering barrel notes. —S.P.S.
Basalt 2014 Winemaker’s Barrel Select Merlot (Columbia Valley) $36, 87 points. This wine’s light aromas suggest woodspice and cherry. The palate mixes fruit and barrel flavors, showing pleasing texture and a tart finish. There’s a barbeque note that seems out of place. —S.P.S.