Merlot wine grape

Widely planted all over the world, the fruity Merlot is a truly international variety that is used to create a number of different styles.  Long thought to have originated in Bordeaux, DNA testing has revealed that its parents are Cabernet Franc and the obscure Magdeleine Noire des Charentes which is today confined to a few villages in Charente to Bordeaux’s northeast.  It is named after the blackbird (merle in French, merlau in Occitan) which likes to feast on its sweet, early-ripening berries.
Although it is the main black grape of Bordeaux it is rarely used on its own there, being blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.  It defines the style of the wines that come from the right bank of the Gironde estuary, like St-Emilion and Pomerol, where it makes up the largest component of the blend.
Its dark-fruited flavours are quite similar to those of its Bordeaux blending partners, but it is less tannic, less acidic and fleshier.  Despite its relatively early ripening, its soft and easy style has adapted well to warmer climes in Australia, California, Chile, and South Africa, both as a varietal wine or in blends that mimic the classic Bordeaux mix.  Back in Europe, it has produced some tremendous results in northern Italy, but also a huge amount of undemanding bulk wine.

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