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The Merlot Wine Grape

54 estates produce wine using this grape

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  • Cape Dutch Estate Cape Dutch Estates (19)
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  • Mediterranean Estate Mediterranean Estates (5)

A few words about Merlot

Merlot is a red wine grape that is used as both a blending grape and for cultivar wines. The name Merlot is thought to derive from the Old French word for young blackbird, merlot, a diminutive of merle, the blackbird, probably from the color of the grape. 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 a popular grape for blending with the sterner, later-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon, which tends to be higher in tannin.

As a cultivar wine, Merlot can make soft, velvety wines with plum flavors. While Merlot wines tend to mature faster than Cabernet Sauvignon, some examples can continue to develop in the bottle for decades. There are three main styles of Merlot-a soft, fruity, smooth wine with very little tannins, a fruity wine with more tannic structure and, finally, a brawny, highly tannic style made in the profile of Cabernet Sauvignon. Some of the fruit notes commonly associated with Merlot include cassis, black and redcherries, blackberry, blueberry, boysenberry, mulberry, ollalieberry and plum.

Vegetable and earthy notes include black and green olives, cola but, bellpepper, fennel, humus, leather, mushrooms, rhubarb and tobacco. Floral and herbal notes commonly associated with Merlot include green and black tea, eucalyptus, laurel, mint, oregano, pine, rosemary, sage, sarsaparilla and thyme. When Merlot has spent significant time in oak, the wine may show notes of caramel, chocolate, coconut, coffee bean,dill weed, mocha, molasses, smoke, vanilla and walnut.