Merlot, a Varietal Worth Putting back on your Radar

Merlot is believed to be an offspring of Cabernet Franc and a sibling of Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot originated in the Bordeaux region of France and is the most widely planted grape there which makes sense since Merlot is one of the primary grapes used in Bordeaux wine.  With approximately 720,000 acres of Merlot planted worldwide, Merlot is generally believed to me the second most planted wine grape in the world just behind Cabernet Sauvignon.

Merlot is generally medium body without a lot of tannins and is fleshy with nice fruit flavors. It is often described as smooth and easy to drink. Merlot can also be blended giving it structure and fullness.  Merlot is a great varietal for people wanting to foray into red wine since it can be lighter and less tannic. But there are also some great complex structured Merlots out there that experienced wine lovers can and should give a try. Generally these are blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Caberent Franc or other red varietals which provide some structure and when blended with the nice fruit flavors of Merlot result in some great wine.  Finally, Merlots made from mountain fruit are definitely delicious and not to be missed. The high altitude enhances their fruit flavor profile while giving them amazing structure and complexity.

Because, Merlot is sometimes, overlooked, the month of October has been designated a celebration of Merlot via #MerlotMe. #MerlotMe is a global social media event meant to bring together wine lovers to celebrate the noble Merlot varietal for the month of October

#MerlotMe was kicked off with a #MerlotMe event in San Francisco on October 10th put together by Bottlenotes. At the event over 40 producers came together to pour their Merlots and celebrate a grape that is often overlooked and underappreciated. The following were the noteworthy Merlots of the night: Raymond 2001 Merlot was my favorite. This wine is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and has nice fruit with amazing structure and finish. It retails for $23.99 if you can still find it but is a great lesson in my it makes sense to buy some wines to keep and cellar for enjoyment later. The next noteworthy wine of the night was the 2006 Twomey Napa Valley Merlot which is a blend of Merlot & Cabernet Franc that retailed for $49.99. This blend provided body, a great velvety texture and a nice finish. Finally Peju’s 2009 Merlot a blend of Merlot, Petit Verdot & Zinfandel was bold and fruity with nice complexity with a retail of $35

Merlot has great range and flexibility and is definitely worth putting back on your radar if it’s fallen off. It is a great varietal to try if you want to start exploring red wine and when it’s blended with other reds it can be quite phenomenal, as the folks of Bordeaux have known for hundreds of years!

Every time you drink Merlot, this month, share your experience on social media using #Merlotme and also use #MerlotMe to search for others recommendations and experiences with Merlot this month. Cheers!

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