For long considered the junior partner in the great Bordeaux duo of grape varieties, Merlot has achieved growing popularity in the last decade of the 20th century thanks to the cult worship of certain Merlot-based Pomerols and Saint Emilions in Bordeaux as well as a growing taste for its lusciously plummy and flavoursome early-drinking delights in countries such as Chile and California.

With its soft texture, deliciously plummy fruit flavour and mellow tannins,

Merlot is more approachable than Cabernet Sauvignon. Taking to damp, cool, clay

soils rather than the warmer gravels of the Médoc, plantings of the

earlier-ripening, thinner-skinned Merlot outnumber those of Cabernet Sauvignon

in Bordeaux and they are also growing extensively in the south of France. Merlot

ripens earlier and more easily than Cabernet Sauvignon, hence its popularity in

France and in northern Italy. It is widely planted in eastern Europe, but

outside France, it is at its most serious in California, where it has become one

of the ‘hottest’ varieties. It is also extensively grown in Chile, where it

produces excellent value, supple-textured reds, and, increasingly in Australia

and New Zealand.

What does it taste like?

  • bell pepper and blackcurrant
  • chocolate and spice-like characters

  • MERLOT’s soft texture helps to give it a deliciously plummy, almost

    fruitcake-like flavour and a mellow smoothness which makes it more

    approachable than its sister grape, the CABERNET SAUVIGNON. Like

    cabernet, it can be a little grassy and bell-pepper-like from cool

    climate regions and it develops blackcurrant, blackberry, blueberry,

    chocolate and spice-like characters when fully ripe. Chilean MERLOT

    often produces juicy reds with blackcurrant pastille flavours.

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