Categories: Fresh and Fruity – Packed with a Punch
After the movie Sideways, Merlot’s clout went down the drain and sales plummeted! There are also numerous mass produced Merlots which do not take advantage of the grape’s ability to produce great fruitiness and drinkability of the wine. Merlot, even from warm climates which drive higher levels of tannins, is a ready to drink everyday favorite and is earning back its place in US wine sales. Since it can be grown in a wide range of climates – cool to warm, valley floor to steep slopes, the results can be extremely different. As with any grape, the further North it is grown, the longer the growing season, the higher the acidity and the lower the alcohol. Warmer climates create riper grapes with higher sugar – you know the formula – sugar + yeast + alcohol! Expect higher alcohol, lower acid and more tannins!
Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon share many traits and it can often be difficult to tell the difference between the two. Further complicating things is the fact the two varietals are frequently blended to enhance each other’s natural strengths and attributes. While Cabs lean more toward black fruits even from moderate climates, Merlot from cool climates aligns more with red fruits and berries often paired with herbal undertones. High acidity and juicy fruits, plus being much easier to grow even in cooler climates make the varietal a wine growers and wine makers dream. Enthusiasts love it for being easy to drink, easy to pair with food and its drinkability right from bottling. Only premium merlots require bottle aging to build complexity, if you have some, drink it without hesitation!
We would be remiss if we did not recognize Merlot’s special day of November 7, International Merlot Day! Some Merlot enthusiasts even claim October as International Merlot Month! Not that we need an excuse to enjoy a glass, but we never want to skip a chance to celebrate American Merlot!