Merlot wine: fruit-driven and good blending partner
Merlot probably originated
in the Bordeaux wine region of France, where it is also the most-planted red wine grape variety. It ripens earlier than the similar Cabernet Sauvignon
and often has a higher sugar content. This explains why Merlot wines have 1% more alcohol. The Merlot grape has a thinner skin than Cabernet Sauvignon so its wines have fewer tannins and less longevity, but their higher sugar content makes them sweet. Their fruity aromas
are reminiscent of plums and forest berries.
Their supple fruitiness makes them perfect for balancing hard Cabernet wines. Merlot makes an ideal blending partner as it harmonizes well with other grapes. It does not push itself into the limelight, but rather underpins the flavours of the other varieties. It is also ideal for barrel-ageing.
Merlot is a high-yielding variety and produces rather simple wines if yields are not limited. Single-varietal Merlots can also be top-class wines, however. The best examples come from the Pomerol area of Bordeaux, such as Château Pétrus or Château Le Pin. Elsewhere in Bordeaux the variety is predominantly grown in Libourne and around the municipalities of Saint-Émilion, Pomerol, Fronsac, Bourg and Blaye. In the Médoc it is blended with other varieties to produce softer wines that can be drunk earlier.
Its luscious fruit aromas go well with strongly flavoured foods such as game in spicy sauces, braised meat and poultry. It is also perfect with French hard cheeses. And these supple, harmonious wines are good for simply drinking on their own too.