The home of Merlot, the territory of Bordeaux, France, is considered the wine capital of the world.
Merle is French for blackbird. It seems blackbird love these grapes.
The aroma and flavours of Merlot are generally composed of black cherry, berries, plum, chocolate, and herbs. They are an easy wine to drink due its medium body, smooth acidity and low tannins.
Merlot grapes, vitis vinifera, prefer a clay soil.
Merlot can be found in a white version which is produced in the same fashion as rose wines or Zinfandel. The grape skins are in contact with the grape juice for a very short time, just long enough to give it a blush colour.
It pairs well with salmon, shellfish, mushrooms, camembert and gouda cheese. Personally, I think red wines in general pair well with chocolate.
The first mention of Merlot is from 1784 in the Bordeaux region of France.
A severe freeze practically wiped out the Merlot and Malbec grapes in France. Viticulturalists attempted to produce a new crop every year after this, without success.
In 1970, the French Government placed a ban on the growth of new Merlot grapes since there had been so much financial ruin.
Then other countries were becoming successful with the grapes so, to get back into the game, they lifted the ban.
Predominant regions to produce Merlot are Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Chile, Australia and, of course, Bordeaux, France, the home of this grape.
Some say 2013…but it depends on who you talk to and the origins of the Merlot you are drinking. For an extensive list by region, this might help.
One thing I have learned is Bordeaux’ best year is 2015. I’ve tried it and it is devine!
Harvest occurs in California in July or August.
Ontario as late as October.
Western Canada might start in September and continue as far as November.
France’s Grape Harvest can start as early as August and continue into October.
Harvesting in Spain ranges between August and October.
Australia harvests from January to March.
In Chile, harvesting begins in the spring, March to May.
It all depends on the orchard and what flavour they are trying to produce. Ice wines are typically harvested in January.
Contact an orchard near you. Many of them welcome volunteers to help harvest. You’ll be glad you did!
Happy National Merlot Day!
Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on November 7, 2017.