It is often used for blending with later ripening and sterner flavoured Cabernet Sauvignon which contains a high level of tannin.
Merlot grape is also often used in pairs in Bordeaux wine, thus it being one of the most planted grape varieties in Bordeaux wine regions. Merlot due to its texture and taste is one of the most sought after red wine varietals in many markets of the world.
This grape variant happens to be one of the world’s most cultivated varieties, with approximately 260,000 hectares of land under Merlot plantation in the year 2004.
Merlot variants of grape are grown in Southwest France regions like Bordeaux, Cahors and Bergerac, Friuli wine region of Italy, Spain and Portugal, central European states of Germany, Slovenia, Austria and Switzerland, California and Washington regions of USA. Canada, Mexico, parts of South America and Asian countries like India and China.
Wines with Merlot grapes
Poggiotondo – Cerro del Masso Chianti 2013 6x 75cl Bottles€69.22 Find Merchant
Château Edmus – Saint Emilion Grand Cru 2007 6x 75cl Bottles€131.57 Find Merchant
Marzadro – La Trentina Tradizionale 70cl Bottle€46.61 Find Merchant
Mas La Chevaliere – Vignoble Roqua Blanca 2008 75cl Bottle€12.96 Find Merchant
Marzadro – Le Diciotto Lune 70cl Bottle€55.55 Find Merchant
Fetzer Valley Oaks – Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 75cl Bottle€9.65 Find Merchant
Vondeling – Petit Rouge 2013 – 75cl Bottle€8.26 Find Merchant
Niel Joubert – Merlot 2009 12x 75cl Bottles€86.94 Find Merchant
Wirra Wirra – Church Block Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz Merlot 2013 75cl Bottle€14.14 Find Merchant
Bonterra – Merlot 2013 75cl Bottle€12.96 Find Merchant
Vergelegen – Reserve Merlot 2011 75cl Bottle€17.82 Find Merchant
Hollick – Avant Garde Sparkling Merlot 2012 75cl Bottle€21.37 Find Merchant
Merlot wine styles
Merlot wine is made using two styles.
- International style – It tends to have lush, velvety and intense tannin of plum and blackberry fruit.
- Bordeaux style – The wines produced using this style tends to have fresh red fruit flavour of raspberry and strawberry with leafy and vegetal notes.
History of Merlot
Merlot variant happens to be an offspring of Cabernet Franc (father) and Madeleina or Raisin de La Madeleine (mother)and a half sibling of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère and Malbec.
The mother of the Merlot variant was discovered as later as 2000 and upon its discovery started to be known by the name Magdeleine Noire des Charentes. The merlot variant is also known to be related to the southwest France grape variant Abrouriou, though the exact nature of the relationship is not known as of yet.
Grape breeders across the world have used Merlot variant crossed with other grapes variants to create a new variety of grape such as Carmine (with Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon), Evmolpia (with Mavrud),Ederena (with Abouriou), Fertilia (with Raboso Veronese),Nigra (with Barbera), Rebo (with Teroldego), Prodest (with Barbera) and Mamaia (with Muscat Ottonel and Babeascanegra)
Merlot grapes tend to make a velvety, soft wine with plum flavours. Merlot wines tend to age faster than a Cabernet Sauvignon, though some variants may continue to develop in a bottle for decades.
The fruity notes associated with Merlot wines include cassis, blackberry, blueberry, black and red cherries, boysenberry, plum, mulberry andollalieberry. Apart from this, it also tends to have vegetable and earthy notes like that of black and green olives, bell pepper, cola nut, fennel, leather, humus, mushrooms, tobacco and rhubarb.
Herbal and floral notes associated with Merlot wines include laurel, green and black tea, eucalyptus, mint, pine, oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage and sarsaparilla.
When Merlot wine spends significant time in the oak barrel, it also tends to show notes of chocolate, caramel, coconut, dill weed, coffee bean, mocha, smoke, molasses, vanilla and walnut
Food pairing with Merlot wine
Merlot wine is such diverse, it can go along with multiple food options. Cabernet-like Merlot wines tend to pair well with most of the items that Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with.
This includes meats which might be grilled or charred. Softer and fruitier Merlots which tends to have a higher acidic value, usually grown in the cooler climes of the world share its food pairing affinities with Pinot Noir and really complements dishes like mushroom based dishes, salmon, greens like radicchio and chard.
Lightbodied Merlots go well with shell fishes, prawns or scallops, especially if it happens to be wrapped in protein rich foods like bacon or prosciutto.
However, Merlot does not go well with blue veined and strong cheeses which tend to overpower the fruit flavors present in the wine.
Also, the capsaicinin spicy foods can heighten the perception of alcohol which can make Merlot wines taste more tannic and bitter.
Michael is an online enthusiast, with a lot of knowledge about online marketing. Traveling around the world to hunt for the perfect wine. Latest on Sicily, where Etna has a huge impact on the taste, which is strong with a bitter aftertaste for the youngest wines, but older wines are fantastic. Drinking wine, and writing about them, are one the passions. Remember to drink responsibly 🙂
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