Merlot

Merlot is another classic grape variety that can be found all over the world. As one of the most planted grapes, the quality of these offerings often depends upon the location it is grown and the producers desired outcome. The most expensive examples can be found in the typical areas of Bordeaux, France and California; yet there are many areas of the world producing fantastic examples of Merlot.

Merlot

Styles of Merlot
The Merlot grape is a thick-skinned variety that produces a full-bodied wine, dark in the glass and heavy on the palate. The warmer the growing region, the more full-bodied the wine will be, as the grape skin will be thicker and the fruit will have more ripeness.

In Bordeaux (specifically, the right bank of the Gironde River), the historical home of the Merlot grape, the wine will be drier and show more earth and non-fruit aromas and flavors, as is typical of old-world wines. Tuscany produces a good amount of Merlot, as both a blend and on its own, and the wine shows a little more fruit that Bordeaux but not as much as a new world offering.

In California, you will find a riper and fuller bodied offering that shows prolific fruit flavors and not a lot of non-fruit characteristics. In Washington State, the grape shows a little more dryness and some non-fruit character, but not nearly as much as its old-world counterparts. Columbia Valley in Washington State gives a nice balance of new world fruit with some earth driven flavors and aromas that you would normally only find in the old world.

Merlot

Geography
You cannot talk Merlot without mentioning the right bank of Bordeaux, as this area (specifically Pomerol and Saint-Émilion) is the home of the greatest expressions of the grape. Tuscany produces some admirable efforts, as the climate is agreeable, and the producers are top notch. The Mediterranean climate makes the grape thrive, and Italy has great promise for the production of Bordeaux grapes, known somewhat colloquially as “Super-Tuscans”.

Merlot

In California, Merlot can be found all over the Napa Valley and Sonoma County. The climate is perfect for Merlot but needs to be held back in terms of yield, vigor and production, as too much fruit from each vine leaves the finished wine void of character. Washington State produces some of the best expressions of the grape in the new world, as it has many micro-climates that really bring out the true character of the grape.

Australia, South America and South Africa all have notable producers making fine examples from this noble variety, and we can expect to see better versions of the grape from regions we have never heard of before, as the expansion of vines continues along with the popularity of wine.

Merlot

Above, you can see the way proximity to water and its effect on climate has a profound effect on growing conditions. The winters are harsh in France, and summer can take a long time to finally arrive in some vintages. However, it is the maritime influence; the temperate breezes of humidity that drift over the region from the Atlantic Ocean, that make this region the viticultural powerhouse it is.

Selling Merlot
As with all fine wines, describing the difference between old world and new world styles of the grape is important. Merlot can show lush and ripe fruit from the new world and in the same vintage show more non-fruit and earth flavors from the old world. Ascertaining the guests preference in regards to dryness and body style is important, as this will guide you into a great recommendation.

One can recommend Napa Valley offerings when the guest likes wines with more fruit and less dryness, while Bordeaux and old world styles of the grape should be reserved for those enjoying more structure: a balance of tannin, acid and overall dryness. Places such as Washington State as well as Australia and South America offer the riper, less dry styles of merlot at mostly reasonable price points.

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Above, you can see the way proximity to water and its effect on climate has a profound effect on growing conditions. The winters are harsh in France, and summer can take a long time to finally arrive in some vintages. However, it is the maritime influence; the temperate breezes of humidity that drift over the region from the Atlantic Ocean, that make this region the viticultural powerhouse it is.

Selling Merlot
As with all fine wines, describing the difference between old world and new world styles of the grape is important. Merlot can show lush and ripe fruit from the new world and in the same vintage show more non-fruit and earth flavors from the old world. Ascertaining the guests preference in regards to dryness and body style is important, as this will guide you into a great recommendation.

One can recommend Napa Valley offerings when the guest likes wines with more fruit and less dryness, while Bordeaux and old world styles of the grape should be reserved for those enjoying more structure: a balance of tannin, acid and overall dryness. Places such as Washington State as well as Australia and South America offer the riper, less dry styles of merlot at mostly reasonable price points.