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Merlot, a neutral black grape with medium aromas, light tannins & acidity, though full bodied & high in alcohol. It originates from Bordeaux, France where on the Right-Bank, Merlot is dominating producing a lighter Bordeaux-blend style. Saint-Emilion & Pomerol are the names of fame.
Other countries where Merlot is planted are the Languedoc-Roussillon, USA, Australia, Chile, South-Africa & a little bit in Italy & Argentina. The USA produces soft, deep coloured with expressive black fruit & oak aromas. Australia is making 2 types; bolder ones with high tannins, black fruit & herbaceous aromas (Margaret River) & milder ones with medium tannins, herbs & light oaky aromas (Hawke’s Bay).Chile is producing Merlot’s with intense black fruit aromas & herbal aromas like bell pepper (Maipo, Colchagua & Cachapoal). South-Africa is copying the Bordeaux blend style, but with more tannins & acidity (Stellenbosch).
Merlots loves a moderate to hot climates. Merlot in hot climates expresses black fruit (plums, black berries, cherries), full body, medium tannins & acidity, but high in alcohol. Moderate climates give Merlot a more elegant style with red fruit & herbal aromas, but with higher levels of tannins & acidity. The best Merlot’s gain from oak aging, developing spicy & oaky notes like vanilla & toffee & smoothens the wine.
As mentioned earlier, Merlot is often used in blends, with the Bordeaux blend the most popular of them all. Merlot gives the blend with for example Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s softness, more body, making the wine easy drinkable. This approach is seen on France, Australia & South-Africa. In Chile, Merlot is blended with Carmenere & Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec is the counterpart in Argentina. USA though, is producing great single variety Merlot’s.
With its neutral flavours & medium style characteristics, Merlot is a great food pairing wine. White meats like chicken, pork & lightly spiced red meats, as long as it’s not too boldly seasoned. Duck, Turkey with Christmas? Tomato based pasta & medium-hard cheeses are also a good combo.
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