Merlot is the most planted grape in Bordeaux, especially on the right bank, around Saint Emilion and Pomerol, usually blended with Cabernet Franc.
When harvested earlier in the season, the wines are lighter and less alcoholic and display red fruit, herbal and leafy flavors and aromas, yet this style is rarely seen outside Bordeaux.
It is a widespread varietal in the New World, especially on the west coast of the United States, where it has grown in popularity and is often found as a monovarietal wine, unlike in France.
In the international style of vinification, the fruit is left to fully ripen in the vine, gathering sugars, resulting in full-bodied, high alcoholic wines, best suitable for maturing in oak and ageing in bottle, showing velvety tannins and elegance. These wines pair well with strong meats such as game, lamb, or pork to balance their power.
Columbia Valley is known for its vast temperature difference from day to night, resulting in high acidity refreshing wines. NorthStar 2015 is a bold Merlot based wine with a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot, that ages for 18 months in French oak barrels. It displays deep black fruits, chocolate, and vanilla flavors.
Merlot from Napa Valley is also gaining traction. Clos Pegase winery has specialized in producing remarkable wines of traditionally “French” grapes, with four locations in Napa Valley. Their Merlot 2018 from the Carneros area has been aged 12 months in French oak and reminisces to plums, licorice, and anise. Further inland, in the area of St. George’s AVA, Silverado Mt George Merlot 2017 is a more structured and complex wine, with 18 months in French oak. It is a delightful wine with notes of raspberry, herbs, meat, and hints of minerality.
Have you ever tried a Merlot from the US? Did you like it?
Let us know in the comments below!
Author: Paloma Zuazo