Merlot is a subtle, dry red wine variety capable of silky textures and gentle tones through to bold and invigorating black fruit flavours. Unfortunately in the past it has been a case of ‘always the bridesmaid never the bride’ despite its wide variety of styles and universal appeal.
What kind of wine is Merlot?
Merlot is one of the famous grape varieties from Bordeaux that is often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon on the Left Bank and Cabernet Franc on the Right Bank. It is a versatile and multi-faceted variety - deep and alluring, it is capable of boldness and strength as silky smooth styles. This red wine can be drunk young or enjoyed aged, like a fine Cabernet Sauvignon.
Where did Merlot originate?
Merlot first appeared in the Bordeaux region of France during the nineteenth century. The name of this grape is thought to have derived from local black birds who either had a fondness for the grape’s taste or the deep, luscious colour of the fruit. Either make a great story - and its name rolls off the tongue as beautifully as the wine rolls on to it.
Is Merlot a blend?
Merlot is often used as a blending grape, most famous in Bordeaux’s Left Bank, where it is mixed with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. On the Right Bank of Bordeaux it accounts for over 60% of plantings, whereas the left bank is more Cabernet Sauvignon dominant. The role of Merlot in blends is to provide softness, body and greater fruit complexity.
Today, single varietal wines of French Merlot actually rank among some of the finest and most expensive wines in the world, selling for thousands of dollars per bottle. For more casual wine drinkers there are still plenty of mid-range and fine tasting affordable styles and for those who prefer bubbles - Sparkling Merlot.
What countries produce Merlot?
Merlot is among one of the most widely planted grapes behind only Cabernet Sauvignon in the world, with wineries producing Merlot and blends in Australia, the United States, New Zealand and Italy, in their Super Tuscan wine tradition, some of the best.
Australian Merlot is renowned for its medium bodied complexity, blackberry flavours and smooth vanilla tones. Of particular note amongst our homegrown regions are Margaret River, Barossa Valley and Wrattonbully.
What foods go with Merlot?
Merlot is a hearty wine, so needs a good hearty dish to get the most out of the experience - we recommend barbequed meats (especially beef), roasted root vegetables and garlic infused dishes. For the cheese lovers, try blue, gorgonzola or a rich, nutty gouda.
Whether you’re keen to try your very first taste of a straight Merlot or interested in its blending potential, The Wine Collective has a host of opportunities for you to explore.