Claret is a British term used, unofficially, in reference to red Bordeaux wine. The red wines of Bordeaux are blends, mostly based on Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The term “claret” is sometimes used—unofficially, of course—to refer to Bordeaux-style red wines produced elsewhere, such as the United States.
Referring to red Bordeaux as “claret” dates to 16th century England. The word itself is an Anglicization of a French word, clairet, which was used to describe a popular style of Bordeaux wine at the time, a rosé-like wine of a dark pink color. The clairet style was a popular export to England, where the name claret took hold. Even after the introduction of high-end, deep-colored red Bordeaux, like Châteaux Haut-Brion and Lafite, the name claret persisted in the English market. The pink style dipped in popularity and was overtaken by the higher-quality reds, which came to be known as claret.
It is important to draw a distinction between claret and clairet. Claret is used to describe red Bordeaux wine generally, though is not an official term and not used on wine labels. Clairet, however, is a distinct and separate style of Bordeaux wine, still made in small quantities today. Bordeaux Clairet is a dark pink wine produced from red grapes. When making the wine, the juice is kept in contact with the skins for only a short period, around 24 hours, giving it a lighter color that closer resembles a rosé than a red wine.
Today, the term is most often used by the British wine trade and wine media to reference Bordeaux wines. Bordeaux wine producers themselves do not use the term on their labels or in any other official capacity. Some American wine producers make red wines in the Bordeaux style, and use the word claret on their labels. The term is not legally protected and has no official meaning, however.
Somewhat related is the American term Meritage. Some American producers of Bordeaux-style wine choose to label their wines with this trademarked term, indicating that the winery has joined the Meritage Alliance and the blend consists exclusively of two or more Bordeaux grape varieties. Meritage wines can be red or white, whereas the unofficial term claret refers only to red wines.
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Basel Cellars 2017 Claret (Columbia Valley (WA))Columbia ValleyRaspberry, chocolate, green herb and plentiful oak spices lead to soft, easy ...See Full ReviewN/A
Del Rio 2017 Reserve Claret (Rogue Valley)Southern OregonThis Bordeaux-style blend is 35% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Malbec—significantly ...See Full Review$35
Ramey 2017 Claret (North Coast)North CoastThe producer pulls from Napa Valley, High Valley, Alexander Valley and the ...Editors’ ChoiceSee Full Review$42
Circle B 2017 Shale Oak Vineyard Claret (San Miguel District)Central CoastClarets historically are lighter red wines, but this blend of 70% Cabernet ...See Full Review$35
Pride Mountain 2016 Reserve Claret (Napa County-Sonoma County)Napa-SonomaSilky rich, this blend of 68% Merlot, 31% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% ...See Full Review$150
Matthews 2016 Reserve Claret (Columbia Valley (WA))Columbia ValleyThis wine is 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and ...See Full Review$70
Matthews 2016 Claret (Columbia Valley (WA))Columbia ValleyIn this blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc, ...See Full Review$35
The Williamsburg Winery 2017 Barrel Aged Virginia Claret (Virginia)VirginiaNotes of violet, tart pomegranate, red plum and black raspberry skew a ...See Full Review$19
Sevtap 2017 Autumn Claret (Santa Ynez Valley)Central CoastCherry and berry aromas are lifted by cola, incense and Dr Pepper ...See Full Review$38
St. Francis 2016 Claret (Sonoma County)SonomaCombining half Merlot with 30% Malbec and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, this red ...See Full Review$22
Donati Family Vineyard 2016 Claret (Paicines)Central CoastPencil shavings and gamy aromas meet with very light red-fruit tones on ...See Full Review$20
Cliff Creek 2013 Sams Valley Vineyard Claret (Southern Oregon)Southern OregonRoughly equal portions of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot go into ...See Full Review$30
Pride Mountain 2015 Reserve Claret (Sonoma County-Napa County)Napa-SonomaThe producer's annual nod to the classic Bordeaux blend, this combines 60% ...See Full Review$145
Ramey 2016 Claret (Napa Valley)NapaThis blends a majority of Cabernet Sauvignon with 26% Merlot, 12% Malbec, ...Editors’ ChoiceSee Full Review$42
Del Rio 2015 Claret (Rogue Valley)Southern OregonThe Claret designation indicates a Bordeaux-style blend. Here (as with the previous ...See Full Review$35
Donati Family Vineyard 2015 Claret (Paicines)Central CoastA blend of all five Bordeaux red grapes, this bottling shows charred ...See Full Review$18
Newton 2016 Skyside Claret (North Coast)North CoastMint, chocolate and cherry flavors intermingle in this dry, full-bodied and firmly ...See Full Review$20
Mietz 2014 Claret (Sonoma County)SonomaThis blends equal parts Merlot and Petit Verdot seamlessly into a moderately ...See Full Review$36
Matthews 2015 Claret (Columbia Valley (WA))Columbia ValleyThis is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (45%), Merlot (26%), Cabernet Franc ...See Full Review$37
Pride Mountain 2014 Reserve Claret (Sonoma County-Napa County)Napa-SonomaThis combines 56% Merlot with 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, the fruit from both ...See Full Review$145
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