Merlot got a bad rap in a wine movie. If only Paul Giamatti's Sideways character would have told his audience that the '61 Cheval Blanc that he was saving for a rainy day was full of the goodness that is Merlot.
Outside of Pomerol, perhaps the world's greatest region for Merlot is Washington State. This varietal ripens beautifully, and in cooler Septembers, like that of 2016, can hang long enough for the fruit to darken and phenolics to mature. Primary-fruited Merlots of the West Coast, introduced before the emergence of Washington State as a global wine producer, left the American wine market feeling that Merlot was a pedestrian, entry level red wine, that would always play second fiddle to Cabernet, and maybe from off stage.
Wines from Pomerol like Petrus and Cheval Blanc demand some of the highest prices and greatest prestige in the world of wine. What France has done better than any wine market, is market regions over varietals. Bordeaux markets the house over variety, winemaker, above all else. Burgundy markets from a row of a vineyard. Champagne is Eponymous. The place identifies the style, which is easily explained to consumers.
Washington Merlot, blended with Syrah, or Cabernet Franc, or Malbec, or the sum of all these parts, sell into Washington red blend projects that are some of the hottest selling SKUs in the US Market. Perhaps the pendulum will swing back to an affinity to Merlot, and (dare to dream...) Rielsling, but as The Feller says, "If you can't beat em, join em", and pitch a Merlot driven red blend to your distributors, marketing, or sales people, and start your own Proprietary Washington red blend.