Merlot (murr-low) is a red wine grape variety with strong historic ties to Bordeaux and is said to have originated in Saint Emilion and the Pomerol regions. It is often confused with Cabernet Sauvignon given that Merlot wine has similar characteristics – black cherry flavors, silky tannin’s and a smooth finish.
Merlot is the offspring of Cabernet Franc, making Cabernet Sauvignon one of its big brothers.
Merlot grows in the same climates as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. The grape is often blended with these varietals as well. When grown in warmer climates, Merlot wine tends to be fruitier with refined tannins. Because of the boldness of these wines, you’ll often find they age in oak which adds vanilla, chocolate, and smoky cedar notes.
Dominant flavors include Raspberry, Black Cherry, Plum, Chocolate, Cedar, Coffee, Vanilla, Bay Leaf, Sage.
Merlot grows in the same climates as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. The grape is often blended with these varietals as well. When grown in warmer climates, Merlot wine tends to be fruitier with refined tannins. Because of the boldness of these wines, you’ll often find they age in oak which adds vanilla, chocolate, and smoky cedar notes.
Merlot is the most planted wine grape in Bordeaux, France but it is widely planted in wine regions across the world including Tuscany, Veneto, Washington State, Sonoma, Napa, South Australia, Western Australia, and South Africa.
Top producing countries for Merlot wine include France, United States, Spain, Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, Chile and Australia.
Truly at home in France, Merlot is generally grown in the Right Bank (France) blending regions. However, it is also widely grown throughout Southern France, where it is often blended with grapes like Malbec.
In Italy, especially Tuscany, Merlot is a blending partner to grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese. They create blends called “Super Tuscans”.
In the Central Valley of Chile Merlot wines tend to be fruity and easy drinking. However, in the Maule Valley, the wines have more structure and depth.
In the U.S., Merlot is most well-known growing alongside Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley and Sonoma, Central Coast and Washington’s Columbia Valley.
Merlot wine pairs best with Duck, Turkey, Lean Beef like Flank, New York Strip, Roasted Vegetables, Squash, Rubbed or Grilled Meat and Tomatoes. The wine should be consumed in an oversized large red wine glass and has a shelf life of about five-years. The average bottle can cost up to $25 for regions like Bordeaux, Washington State and Napa but can be upwards of $50.
Carpe Travel collaborated with Maia Parish to compile the grape varietal overviews. Maia Parish is an award-winning events producer, sommelier, wine judge, and media consultant. She lives in Denver, Colorado and likes to eat copious amounts of food. You can find her here www.linktr.ee/thewinemistress.