Country Well - where do you start - I think it would be easier to list countries that do not grow Merlot, but if you look at classical areas top of the list must be Bordeaux in France ( especially Left Bank Bordeaux including St Emilion and Pomerol ) where it is the most widely planted variety, here it plays a very important part by balancing the Cabernet Sauvignon and filling out the middle palate and growing when Cabernet fails to ripen! Other areas must include NE Italy, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealnds Hawkes Bay, Califonia Napa and Sonoma, Chile, Argentina, South Africa..... and everywhere else.
Style Red fruit, in cooler climates but black fruit (black cherries and blackberries) in hot areas, medium to low acidity and body with medium high alcohol to high in hot climates, and low tannin levels, it has aromas of fruit cake or dried fruits hen fully ripe fruit is used in conjunction with oak.
Flavours to expect Red or black fruits and some dried fruits including fruit cake, with age tobacco and cedar can play a part along with vegetal nuances, oak adds toasty coffee and vanilla and nuts.
Characteristics Medium to high alcohol, medium acidity and body, deep colour and low - medium tannins. Silky, velvet texture. It ages well and responds to oak favourably. It blends well with many grapes and in Bordeaux pairs with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, in many New World wine regions as well as the rest of Europe it is grown / bottled as a varietal
Problems Can be bland and can lack structure.
Points of Note It is a fashionable easy drinking wine that is easy to grow and can yield high, if the yield is kept under control it has the potential to have high quality potential. It is a bigger juicier berry than Cabernet Sauvignon which buds and ripens earlier ( so may avoid some of the weather hazards etc), and has a higher alcohol potential as well as less tannins. The thinner skins can make it more susceptible to rot and downy mildew. Ageing of Merlot depends on the quality and where it is grown, Napa 6-13 years can be expected, in Chiloe 3-7 is the norm while in Bordeaux 10-17 years is a good average. Meritage - Bordeaux style blends in California which would contain Merlot.
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