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Lets Talk Wine: The magic of Merlot

Time:2018-12-06 01:11wine - Red wine life health Click:

Wine Talk Merlot Lets Magic

By JoAnn Actis-Grande

One of the world’s most widely planted grapes, Merlot, is making a comeback after a decade of decline. Last month was International Merlot Month with a hashtag #MerlotMe – helping to bring back the popularity of the grape.

Merlot was the hottest red wine during the late '80s and '90s, especially with the rise of American wines in the marketplace, surpassing Zinfandel which was previously the American red wine of choice. So much so that California producers were pulling out Zinfandel vines to plant more Merlot.

Then a bad twist of fate happened for Merlot in 2004. The movie Sideways was released featuring two men obsessed with Pinot Noir (a lighter bodied red wine) virtually trashing Merlot in the movie. Sales for Pinot Noir skyrocketed and no one was interested in drinking Merlot. This time, producers pulled out Merlot vines, replacing them with the fresh new star, even though some regions were not the best for Pinot Noir. The good news is that many of the Merlot vines that were taken out were not their finest vines. Wise wine producers realize how precious good Merlot vines are.

Merlot has always been the most widely planted black grape variety of Bordeaux, where it is frequently blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The exclusive and priced accordingly Château Petrus is over 90 percent Merlot giving you a good perspective of how magical Merlot can be when made right.

After France, the United States (especially California, Washington and New York) runs a close second for vineyards planted, followed by Italy, Australia and Chile. The grape is also planted in countries across the Middle East.

While Merlot’s flavor profile is similar to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot tends to be more herbaceous. Merlot wines on their own are usually soft and easy drinking with flavors of plums and fruitcake.

I suggest including Merlot on your list of favorite wines to help create the magic of the holiday season.

Château Lorieu 2015 Bordeaux, France

A quality Bordeaux experience with an approachable style and price. Ripe fruit and soft tannins create a winning combination that is ready to drink today or aging up to five years. $15

Karmei Yosef Winery Bravdo Merlot 2013, Israel

Well balanced with hints of herb and ripe red berries with anise and vanilla flavor to top it off. Its dark ruby red color is a perfect complement for the holidays. $32

Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot Three Palms Vineyard 2014, California

Awarded the Wine Spectator #1 Wine of the Year! One of California’s first single-vineyard Merlots. Named for its three iconic palm trees, producing an intense, age-worthy wine with complex fruit and mineral layers. $98

Merriam Windacre Merlot Russian River Valley 2013, California

Windacre Vineyard is a highly acclaimed vineyard on the eastern edge of the Russian River Valley. Dark berry aromas lead to tastes of blueberry, caramel and chocolate. $32

Charles Smith Velvet Devil Merlot 2014, Washington State

Velvety, smooth, well rounded, bursting with great flavors of dark fruit, cherry, and blueberry. $12

Mercer Estates Merlot 2014, Washington State

Both strong and elegant with aromas and flavors of dark cherry, plum, and black currants with an everlasting finish. $20

Lenz Winery Merlot 2014, New York

A Long Island classic, medium-bodied with aromas and flavors of ripe black cherry, dark plum and cocoa. $20


JoAnn Actis-Grande travels to many great wine regions all over the world writing about wine, travel, and curious lifestyles. She lives in Portsmouth and can be reached by email at j.actisgrande@gmail.com. Find more of her Let's Talk Wine columns online.


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