Merlot — A Guide to the Basics

Merlot may not receive the very same widespread adulation as Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir, however it is definitely capable of producing white wines with the same level of intricacy and durability. Eventually, Merlot from Bordeaux to Napa Valley and lots of other places around the world, is capable of achievement.

What is Merlot Wine?
Red wine is a red wine that is produced from the grape range of the very same name. Stylistically, it runs the range from fruit-forward and sweet with oak to more structured and nuanced, capable of aging for years. For a whole generation of white wine drinkers, nevertheless, Merlot was understood for the kind of cheap-and-cheerful bottles that might be picked up for little cash, and that were planned to age for approximately as long as it required to drive home from the supermarket. The stereotypes never ever inform the whole story: Merlot, after all, is one of the essential parts in the traditional blends of Bordeaux. On the Right Bank, in Pomerol in particular, it is typically crafted into wines (or integrated into blends, typically with Cabernet Franc) that rank amongst the most extensive worldwide. Merlot is one of the great grapes, and it deserves to be thought about so.

Where Does Merlot Wine Come From?
Red wine is most notoriously grown and produced in Bordeaux and California. Merlot also does brilliantly in surrounding St.-Emilion.

Terrific Merlots are produced in Napa Valley and Sonoma County too, and are typically utilized to include more subtlety and silkiness to Cabernet Sauvignon-based reds. Of course, they also can make great white wines by themselves; throughout California, in truth, it’s easy to find great examples of Merlot-based wines. Tuscany is also a source of world-class Merlot; red wines like Massetto, Ornellaia, Antinori’s Il Bruciato, and Le Macchiole’s Messorio blaze a trail, either as 100% Merlots or blends that include it. Australia’s McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley are also home to excellent Merlot, as are Chile, Argentina, Washington State, and more.

Why Should You Drink Merlot Wine?
Merlot experienced what can just be called a “grape-variety crisis” in the mid-2000s; it probably reached it popular low-point in the movie Sideways, which famously includes Paul Giamatti passionately announcing to his buddy before heading into a dining establishment, “No, if anybody orders Merlot, I’m leaving. In the nearly 20 years given that, manufacturers around the world have enhanced their efforts to plant Merlot in more-perfect places, not over-crop it, and craft it into the kind of severe wine its fans always understood it was capable of producing.

Because of its typically softer tannins and plush texture, Merlot is appropriate to being sipped on its own. At the table, Merlot provides fantastic food-friendliness, too. Classic pairings like steak and hamburgers are easy and enjoyable, but the generous plums and dark berries of a good Merlot likewise work well alongside fruit-based sauces glossing lamb and duck, too. Red wine is a strong choice with cheeses like cheddar and gouda, whose own subtle sweet taste finds complimentary attributes in the ripe fruit of Merlot. When it concerns strong blue cheeses, nevertheless, or funkier washed skin cheeses, proceed with caution, as more tannic expressions of Merlot will likely not pair along with, say, Port with the former and Sauternes with the latter (though red Burgundy is a strong option for Époisses, too). Merlot is a fantastic partner for chocolate; simply ensure that there is a high enough percentage of cacao and not too much sugar, as that will make the tannins in the Merlot feel gritty and extremely assertive. In basic, Merlot is a red wine whose series of designs and expressions make it far more versatile than it often gets credit for.

What Does Merlot Taste Like?
Merlot usually boasts notes of red and black berry fruit, currants, cherries, and plums. As it ages, Merlot might show qualities of cigar tobacco, leather, dried mint, and leather.

Red wine is finest taken pleasure in at a little warmer than cellar temperature: If you keep your white wines at 55 ° F, it’s finest to take pleasure in a bottle of Merlot around 20 minutes after it was removed from the cellar or wine fridge. If it’s being kept at space temperature, then positioning it in a refrigerator for approximately 20 minutes will brighten up both the fruit and level of acidity. Red wine is best taken pleasure in from either a universal or Cabernet Sauvignon-style glass.

5 Great Merlot Wines
There are countless fantastic Merlot red wines on the market today. These five producers, listed alphabetically, are a best method to start exploring all that Merlot needs to provide.

A glass of merlot before a cheeseboard

From their base on the Right Bank, in St.Émilion, Château Lassegue produces 2 excellent reds: Les Cadrans and their eponymous grand vin. The flagship wine combines Merlot with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, and represents not simply exceptional fruit and wine making, but likewise exceptional value. The current-release 2018 costs around $60, and its brambly berries, plums, and subtle core of savoriness make it excellent for taking pleasure in right now, in addition to a terrific prospect for aging in the cellar.


Probably the first producer in Napa Valley to craft Merlot that won extensive honor as amongst the best on the marketplace. Duckhorn produces a large range of red wines, and a variety of expressions of Merlot, however their Three Palms Vineyard bottling is a seasonal favorite. The 2019 showcases mountain berries enrobed in chocolate ganache, beautifully adjusted vanilla, and a finish that assures years of development.

Justin “Justification”.

The well-liked Paso Robles producer crafted their 2019 from 51% Cabernet Sauvignon and 49% Merlot, which has led to a white wine with notes of cigar humidor, cherries, plums, and currants, all of it sweetly spiced with vanilla and coffee shop mocha.

Le Macchiole “Messorio”.

This fantastic producer, located in Bolgheri, produces a range of standout white wines. Messorio is a beautiful expression of Merlot, and proves that the Tuscan Coast has the prospective to be every bit as amazing for the excellent grape variety as Bordeaux’s Right Bank. The 2018 Messorio sings an aria of coffee, orange oils, kirsch, blackberry liqueur, and black licorice, and will age brilliantly for the next 3 years.

Mayacamas Merlot.

The iconic producer crafts critically admired Cabernet Sauvignon as well, but their 2018 Merlot, from Mt. Veeder is remarkable. Layered with sage, rosemary, currants, cherries, and a nod in the direction of violets and blueberries, this red wine is framed by fine-grained tannins that bring tasty notes of pencil led. It can be taken pleasure in now and for the next 15 years or more.

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