Decoy Merlot Review (2023) – Sonoma County

Decoy Sonoma County Merlot Featured

What Kind of Wine Is Decoy Merlot?

Decoy Merlot is a rich California dry red wine with cherry aromas and notes of baking spices, while layers of red currants and raspberries dominate the mouth. The smooth finish is combined with grippy tannins and vibrant acidity, giving structure. The grapes used in the production of Decoy Merlot wine are cultivated in fine vineyards in Sonoma County.

California’s Mediterranean-style climate offers the vines essential warmth that helps them develop grapes of concentrated flavors. In fact, because of this heat, luscious wines can be produced, with successful California Merlot showcasing aromas and flavors of red and black fruits, such as cherry, blackberry, plum, and vanilla spice, as well as creamy flavors of chocolate, coffee, and cinnamon.

Decoy Sonoma County Merlot Review

  • WineryDecoy
  • Country/Region — United States, California, Sonoma County
  • Type — Californian Merlot
  • Aroma — Cherry, Raspberry, Blackberry, Licorice, Smoke, Vanilla Spice
  • Grapes — Merlot
  • Taste — Plum, Red Currant, Orange, Chocolate, Coffee, Cheese, Prune, Black Pepper, Charred Oak, Cinnamon Spice
  • Alcohol Content — 13.5%
  • Sugar — Dry
  • Pairing — Meatloaf, Rabbit Casserole, Macaroni, And Cheese, Cheeseburgers

Decoy Merlot is absolutely fantastic. It is soft and rounded and mouth-watering. With a wealth of cherry and plum aromas together with a melting chocolate flavor. Solidly backed by oakiness, black pepper, and baking spice, Decoy Merlot is moderate in weight and ripeness. In other words, it is a perfectly balanced Merlot with enough structure and complexity to justify its premium price. For a remarkable and immersive wine-drinking experience, try it now!

Overall Rating: 4.4

  • Super Delicious
  • Delicate Texture From The First Sip
  • Structured And Complex
  • Velvety Tannins
  • Long, Creamy Finish
  • Aging Potential
  • Acidity Can Be A Little Overwhelming

Tasting Notes

Decoy Merlot is a French-oaked red wine of an approachable nature. It has aromas of red cherry and berry and unctuous flavors of plum, chocolate, coffee, and baking spices. The charred wood nature creates a core of cheese and black pepper, with a lasting note of licorice on the finish. The grippy tannins also provide essential complexity and finesse.


Decoy Merlot has a deep violet color, like a ripe plum. It leads to a semi-opaque center that goes out and develops into an equally deep ruby hue on the sides. The tears of the wine are long and dense because of the high alcohol content. An enticing appearance, Decoy Merlot is both elegant and bold.


As the bottle uncorks, an abundance of bright cherry, raspberry, and plum aromas emerges, bringing excitement to wine enthusiasts. A few swirls later, additional notes of sweet licorice blended with smoke, and vanilla spice surface, complementing the aromatic nose. Decoy Merlot has a surpassing aromatic profile, full of charm and layers of sweet-smelling fruitiness. Terrific!


Decoy Merlot is delicious as its palate is an explosion of plum and red currant flavors mingled with chocolate and coffee. As the wine flows into the mouth, the red fruits are accompanied by a hint of orange. The latter provides a lighter note to the creamy mouth, where cheese and prune sensations dominate. This complexity continues since overtones of black pepper, charred wood, and cinnamon spice add extra structure to the wine, indicating the oaky personality. A controlled acidity refreshes, offsetting the ripeness. Decoy Merlot, therefore, is medium-bodied and compelling.


Decoy Merlot has a creamy and enjoyable finish. It is lingering and balanced, as expected from a premium California red. The fruitiness of the mouth is still present, while a taste of licorice offers warmth and a subtle touch of sweetness. As such, the finish concludes the palate in a dynamic way.


A structured and complicated red, Decoy Merlot fascinates from the first sip. It preserves all of the structural components of its varietal, which is incredible. Having undergone oak aging, Decoy Merlot is heavier than your average fruit-forward California red, but that is also its advantage over the competition. To sum it up, Decoy Merlot does everything right, from the beginning to the end.

Decoy Merlot Food Pairing

The best way to enjoy Decoy Merlot is by pairing it with a juicy meatloaf. The meaty goodness makes an extraordinary combination with the finely textured red berry and cherry flavors of the wine. Rabbit casserole goes well with the wines’ leather and vanilla spice sensations. If you go down that route, do not forget to add a small portion of Decoy Merlot when pan-frying the rabbit meat for extra savoriness. A bowl of Mac and Cheese or cheeseburgers go well with the wine when you do not feel like cooking.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who Makes Decoy Merlot?

Decoy Merlot is a product of Decoy, located in Sonoma County, California. Decoy is a premier producer of Sonoma County wines and is a part of Duckhorn Vineyards, a Napa Valley luxury wine brand. Over the years, it has evolved from being a single wine that supported the Duckhorn Vineyards brand to a renowned winery. Decoy has a loyal following for its unique style, with wines capable of expressing their full charm and complexity in their youth, without bottle maturation. Today, in addition to the Decoy Red, the Decoy lineup includes wines from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, as well as Sauvignon Blanc varietals.

In 1985, the first Decoy Red Blend was made at Duck Vineyards, marking the winery founding. In 2008, Decoy evolved from being a second-label supporting the Duckhorn Vineyards brand to being a standalone winery with its exclusive wine portfolio. In 2012, Decoy acquired the Ridgeline Vineyard in Alexander Valley, Sonoma County’s prestigious region, for growing Bordeaux varietals. In 2013, Decoy acquired the Brownell Vineyard, also in Alexander Valley. Brownell Vineyard is a valley-floor vineyard with ancient gravel and sandy alluvial soils. Perfect for growing Cabernet Sauvignon.

How Is Decoy Merlot Made?

Decoy is made from almost a hundred percent Merlot grapes and a tiny proportion of traditional red blenders Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. As a dry red wine, Decoy Merlot is crafted by following the standard winemaking process.

After enjoying abundant hang-time to ripen, the grapes are sorted, de-stemmed, and crushed to release their juice. Then, this juice goes into stainless steel vessels to undergo alcoholic fermentation. The temperature increases to ensure the extraction of color, flavor, and tannins from the fermented grapes. Next, specialized winemaking techniques, like a malolactic conversation, take place to shape the wine character. When the fermentation is over, Decoy Merlot is aged twenty months in one-hundred percent French oak barrels. Finally, the mature wine is bottled.

Where Is Decoy Merlot Made?

The Merlot grapes used in the production of Decoy are from vineyards in Sonoma County. Sonoma benefits from the warm climate of California. It rests between the Pacific Ocean and Napa Valley. With a versatile landscape, Sonoma is under the constant influence of the nearby ocean. It enjoys cool nights and days that rarely get hot.

This is due to the fog that comes inland via the Russian River and Petaluma Wine Gap. Furthermore, the Mayacamas Mountain Range, which runs along the border between Lake, Napa, and Sonoma counties, shields the region’s warmer vinicultural appellations, like Alexander Valley and Knights Valley, from the intense heat. California is considered the center of the American winemaking industry because of its fruit-forward wines and innovative wineries.

How to Serve Decoy Merlot?

Decoy Merlot is served best at a standard room temperature (60 degrees Fahrenheit or 15 to 18 Celsius). The reason for this is that if medium-bodied red wines become too cold, they taste thin. Conversely, by reaching higher temperatures than recommended, they see their freshness decreasing. Eventually, the flavors become muddled, resulting in an uninspiring wine.

Decoy Merlot has to be poured into larger-sized wine glasses to allow the air to come into contact with the surface of the wine, encouraging it to release its intense aromatics and flavors. Decanting the wine is also an option to consider, as Decoy Merlot will benefit from the additional aeration, making it appear even more refreshing.

How Much Does Decoy Merlot Cost?

Decoy Merlot is a premium red wine, and therefore, it is priced accordingly. Decoy Merlot prices range from $19 to almost $40 per 750ml bottle, depending on vintage and vendor. As such, wine enthusiasts have to pay a premium price to obtain it. That said, you usually get what you pay for, and in this case, consumers have the opportunity to savor one of the greatest California Merlots ever created!

How Long Does Decoy Merlot Last?

Although Merlots are usually fruit-forward wines, Decoy is indeed suitable for long-term storage. Through maturation, it develops aromas of fig and tar and flavors of cooked plums and wet leaves. The wine should be sealed with a cork and stored in a stable environment (50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit or 10 to 15 Celsius) and a degree of humidity. Direct sunlight or artificial light better be avoided as they may damage the wine and make it faulty.

Odors also have to be kept at bay, as they might find their way inside the bottle and instill unpleasant aromas and flavors, like vinegar. Do not store Decay Merlot for over three years, as afterward, the wine is bound to start losing its freshness and give way to unwelcome tertiary flavors. Some of which are very unpleasant, like intense animal sweat!

How Many Calories Does Decoy Merlot Have?

Decoy Merlot, despite its creaminess, has a standard caloric density. There are almost 24 calories in 1 fluid ounce of the beverage, which equates to 125 calories per serving. The calorie breakdown is 0 grams of fats, 10 grams of sodium, 4 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of protein, and 1 gram of total sugars. As a consequence, Decoy Merlot calories constitute the wine a super dietary choice. So, if you feel in need of a premium Merlot, Decoy is the best choice on the market. Decoy Merlot alcohol content sits at 13,9% per 750ml bottle. That is a high alcohol concentration for a California red.


Decoy Merlot is absolutely fantastic. It is soft and rounded and mouth-watering. With a wealth of cherry and plum aromas together with a melting chocolate flavor. Solidly backed by oakiness, black pepper, and baking spice, Decoy Merlot is moderate in weight and ripeness. In other words, it is a perfectly balanced Merlot with enough structure and complexity to justify its premium price. For a remarkable and immersive wine-drinking experience, try it now!

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