Merlot wines. Origins, Development & Recommendations
THE BEST WINES OBTAINED FROM THE MERLOT GRAPE VARIETY
On November 7 , the International Merlot Grape Day is celebrated all over the world , a tribute to one of the noblest and most elegant grape varieties in the world, but also one of the most widespread.
Originally from France , Merlot is, after Cabernet Sauvignon, the grape variety with the largest area of vineyards planted in the world, a total of 270,000 hectares of land, all spread across different countries.
The Merlot grape variety originates in the south-west of France, specifically in the Bordeaux region , and is currently one of its main and traditional varieties. In this area were produced the best Merlot wines in history, the wines of Pomerol and St. Emilion are famous, including one of the most famous in the world, Petrus, made with ninety-five percent Merlot.
Bordeaux is famous for its blends of Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc, precisely because in the past, the Merlot grape variety was considered a variety with little body and little character, but also because the blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc was perfect.
The winemakers called it the chameleon variety because, no matter where it was grown, it developed in a totally different way, offering different shades.
In the 1980's, winemakers began to realize that Merlot grapes were a variety that offered wines with less acidity and a much lighter structure, which made these wines very popular for consumption as so, by the glass, and also because the harmony between fruit and acidity was more complex than in the case of other wines, so the result was a wine without astringency, but with a unique fruit taste.
The latter happened with younger wines, they were lighter, they had more fruit, which made them ideal to be consumed as an aperitif or with something to nibble on.
But they also saw that Merlot was a variety that, although not as acidic as the others, had a great aging power. It ages well on its own in French oak barrels and does not lose its structure, which was a great advantage, because it thus obtained very subtle and delicate balsamic and spicy notes, which come from wood and from the fried inside of the barrel. That's why today we have cask-aged Merlot wines that are truly elegant and refined.
On the market we find single-variety Merlot, but also with a blend that contains a very small percentage of other varieties, sometimes only five percent of another grape variety. This is because when the variety spread to the rest of the world, many winemakers began to make them in larger proportions.
When they saw that the results were good and that the wines obtained only from Merlot were very easy to drink and very silky on the palate, in short, that they were defined as pleasant and very elegant wines, they decided to make single-variety wines. These adjectives are still attributed today to wines obtained mainly from Merlot grapes.
The Merlot grape is a variety that has beautiful black berries with bluish reflections, hence the name of this variety, " merle " in French means blackbird , it is those small birds with bluish black plumage , which were to eat the berries when they were starting to ripen, because the Merlot variety is one of the first grape varieties of the season to ripen, and its fruit is sweet, so blackberries love it very much.
A curious detail is that some winemakers let it ripen more than usual to obtain more fruity wines , also denser and with more volume, and among its aromas are more noticeable black fruits such as blackberries, fallen leaves. , due to its grassy notes, and figs.
These are the little tricks of the people from the country, which come to us in the form of small drinking jewels, without a doubt one of those wines to enjoy this season of the year, because in them you can perfectly smell the autumn.
The Merlot variety adapts very well to the environment in which it is planted, and its resistance to harsh climates , because it withstands the cold very well , makes it a variety with a strong presence in areas of France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, but also in countries from the Balkans, such as Croatia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, but also in Romania , where it divides the spotlight with Cabernet Sauvignon.
In Spain we can find it in La Mancha, Navarra, Catalonia, Aragon and Ribera de Duero, in some of these designations of origin more present than in others. In Spain, this variety is highly valued for its versatility when mixed with other varieties and for the low acidity it offers. This is essential in the tempranillo or fine-grained blends of Ribera de Duero, as it softens them without losing their aromatic load.
In addition, the size of its bunches is not excessively large and it is easy to pick by hand, which facilitates manual harvesting because it does not have too much volume or weight.
Another detail of the Merlot grape variety is that its skin is thicker, so the load of phenols , ie the antioxidants we talked about in previous articles, is much higher, giving healthier properties to the wine .
It is true that the pulp does not have a strong pigmentation, so the wines obtained with this variety will not be as dark in color as those obtained with Tempranillo or Cabernet Sauvignon, but will have a more ruby red color .
In our online store, we have a blend of Tempranillo, Syrah and Merlot, twelve months old, from Bodega Pago de Cirsus , its name, Vendimia Seleccionada. Pago de Cirsus is a castle-shaped winery in Navarre that houses a beautiful hotel and where we were lucky enough to see their fantastic barrel room, the music that the monks listened to in the past, where today the best wines of the house rest .
The selected vintage comes from Finca Bolandin, a wine with a velvety tannin, with a structure and balance typical of the best Pago wines.
In Catalonia, under the Empordà designation of origin, we would like to highlight a wine from the Roig Parals winery , made in Bordeaux style, a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, aged for 13 months in French oak barrels, cherry red , with ruby shades, very aromatic, with many red and black fruits, with notes of burn and balsamic from the barrel.
A wine that surprises us when tasting for its large structure, a round and very balanced wine that can accompany a game stew or red meats so appetizing in autumn.
Another blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon that we also find in the DO Empordà is Proposit , a wine from the Viniríc winery, located in the opposite location in the same region, but with an altitude difference of four hundred meters and a warmer climate. gentler than the other.
By the way, it has a beautiful cherry red color, has violet aromas, an aromatic characteristic present in wines made with Merlot, is a wine that is aged for 12 months in French oak barrels and is very harmonious, silky due to its ripe tannins and very elegant.
In our online store you will find a large selection of Spanish wines that include the Merlot grape variety. Discover our wines here !
Now, in conclusion, we thank our friends Isabela Zaro for all the information presented in this article.
We invite you to celebrate with us the International Merlot Day, how else than, colliding a glass of Merlot!
Happy Merlot Day and next time, wine lovers!
The DiS & DiS team