The Vineyards

Merlot 12/09/2008

Merlot  12/09/2008    Finca Perot

Merlot  is a red wine grape that is used as both a blending grape and for varietal wines. Merlot-based wines usually have medium body with hints of berry, plum, and currant. Its softness and "fleshiness", combined with its earlier ripening, makes Merlot an ideal grape to blend with the sterner, later-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon. This flexibility has helped to make it one of the most popular red wine varietals in the United States  and Chile.
The earliest recorded mention of Merlot was in the notes of a local Bordeaux official who in 1784 labeled wine made from the grape in the Libournais region as one of the area's best. The name comes from the French regional patois word "merlot", which means "young blackbird" ("merle" is the French word for several kinds of thrushes, including blackbirds); the naming came either because of the grape's beautiful dark-blue color, or due to blackbirds' fondness for grapes.

Merlot grapes are identified by their loose bunches of large berries. The color has less of a blue/black hue than Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and with a thinner skin, the grapes also have fewer tannins. Also compared to Cabernet, a Merlot grape tends to have higher sugar content and lower malic acid.

Merlot thrives in cold soil, particularly ferrous clay. The vine tends to bud early which gives it some risk to cold frost and its thin skin increases its susceptibility to rot. It normally ripens up to two weeks earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon. Water stress is important to the vine with it thriving in well drained soil more so than at base of a slope.

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