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Merlot is perhaps the most underappreciated of the classic French red varieties. While everyone accepts that the wines of Saint Emilion and Pomerol ar...
Merlot is perhaps the most underappreciated of the classic French red varieties. While everyone accepts that the wines of Saint Emilion and Pomerol are some of the finest wines in the world, it remains very difficult to tempt red wine drinkers into great examples from the USA, Chile, New Zealand and Australia. Somehow the much-maligned Merlot still remains in the shadow of Cabernet Sauvignon, though it can be just as good.Merlot is a full-bodied red wine that can show the perfume of Pinot Noir and fleshy palate of Grenache combined with the powerful blackberry and blackcurrant fruits in Cabernet. However, it is on the palate where Merlot really shines - rich, powerful and supple with silky tannins. While it does not have the brutish power of Cabernet Sauvignon, it is often far more approachable. Or as Jancis Robinson calls it "Cabernet without the pain." Indeed, Merlot makes an excellent companion for Cabernet, filling its austere structure with plummy generosity, and creating truly wonderful Cab Merlot blends.There are many excellent regions for Merlot around the world, the best of which have temperate climates such as Bordeaux. Here, the appellations of Saint Emilion and Pomerol have made Merlot king, and produce subtle and elegant wines with superb tannin structure and the ability to age well in the cellar.The United States has also made a name for itself with Merlot, although here it is produced in a more fruit forward style. American Merlot radiates with luscious dark fruits and herbal elements in the background. New Zealand too, particularly Hawke’s Bay, is another area where Merlot does well. New Zealand Merlot can be remarkably Bordeaux like in its elegance and subtlety. For Australian regions, the best examples are found around our Southern coastline in classic Cabernet regions such as Margaret River, Coonawarra and the Yarra Valley.