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The Merlot grape is a dark blue coloured grape identified by the loose bunches or large berries. It is not  quite as dark in colour as the Cabernet Sauvignon (a much more tannic varietal).

The Merlot is used as both a blending grape and as a varietal. The Merlot is a reasonably flexible grape; used with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot.

The origin of the name is thought to come from the Occitan language (Roman language spoken in the South of France) using ‘merlot’ meaning ‘young blackbird’ – perhaps referring to the colour. Also a connection with the French word ‘merle’ meaning thrushes, including blackbirds.

Blackbird

The Merlot wine has a medium body with hints of berry, plum and currant. It is a softer wine that for some may be a good starter red wine, or something for those who aren’t too keen on the tannins. In Argentina, for example, the Merlot is slightly more acidic and tannic than in many other regions.

merlot color

As of 2004, Merlot was estimated to be the third most grown variety at 640,000 acres globally. This puts Merlot just behind Cabernet Sauvignon with 650,000 acres. Compared to the Cabernet Sauvignon, the Merlot grapes tend to have less of a black/blue hue and usually thinner skin, thus fewer tannins unit per volume.

 

The most prominent region would be France, home to nearly two thirds of the world’s plantings of Merlot (sort of like Argentina and the Malbec!). Then Italy, California, Australia, Argentina, Chile, Mexico and parts of the United States.

Argentina is a new world wine region with production increasing in the Mendoza region. Argentine Merlots have shown tannic structure and acidity. Below is a breakdown of the number of acres of Merlot in Argentina;

Mendoza

12190.9

San Juan

1182.3

Río Negro

683.2

Neuquén

584.1

La Rioja

405

Catamarca

135.4

Salta

130.2

La Pampa

99.3

Córdoba

59.3

Chubut

19.7

Buenos Aires

15.3

Tucumán

12.3

Some names include: Santa Alicia Merlot, Mendoza Station Merlot Blend Merlot-Malbec, Cuvelier Los Andes Merlot, Luigi Bosca Merlot Reserva, Vina Cobos Merlot Felino, Bodegas Salentein Merlot and Navarro Correas Red Blend Structure Ultra.

Luigi Bosca Merlot Reserva

 

To pair with food, the flexibility and diversity of Merlot can be a great help. Try pairing these with a grilled and charred meat.


And enjoy!

 

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