• Color: Red (Black/Blue-Skinned)
  • Grape Parentage: Cabernet Franc x Magdeleine Noire des Charentes
  • Place of Origin: Bordeaux
  • Origin of Grape Name: “Merlot” is derived from the French merle, or “blackbird”
  • Major Countries of Production:Gironde département: 69,407 ha
    • Hérault département: 10,720 ha
    • Aude département: 10,365 ha
    • Gard département: 6,581 ha
    • Dordogne département: 4,127 ha
    • France: 113,848 hectares (2011, FranceAgrimer)
    • Italy: 24,141 ha (2010, Il Corriere Vinicolo)
    • United States:
      • San Joaquin County, CA: 7,465 acres (2010, the Wine Institute)
      • Napa County, CA: 6,687 acres (2010, the Wine Institute)
      • Sonoma County, CA: 6,109 acres (2010, the Wine Institute)
      • Monterey County, CA: 5,603 acres (2010, the Wine Institute)
      • Washington State: 5,853 acres (2010, Washington Wine Commission)
    • Bulgaria
    • Spain: 13,325 hectares (2007, Observatorio español del Mercado del Vino/OeMV)
    • Australia: 10,073 hectares (2010, WIne Australia)
    • Chile: 10,041 hectares (2011, Wines of Chile)

Note: in 1994, French ampelographers correctly identifed many Chilean “Merlot” vines as Carmenère

  • Synonyms: 
    • France: Merlau
    • Historical French Synonyms: Crabutet, Bigney, Vitraille, Sémillon Rouge, Sème de la Canau, Plant Médoc, Sème dou Flube
    • Hungary: Médoc Noir 
  • Viticultural Characteristics: Thinner-skinned than Cabernet Sauvignon (Merlot flowers and ripens up to two weeks earlier than Cabernet),  Resistance to Powdery Mildew, Susceptible to Downy Mildew and Botrytis/Grey Rot
  • Preferred Soil Type: cool, moisture-retaining soils, such as clay
  • Associated Classic Soil Types: 
    • Pomerol: Crasse de Fer (iron-rich clay)
  • Common Blending Partners: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc

Typical Descriptors and Structure for Right Bank Bordeaux
(Merlot-dominated blends) 

  • Visual: Ruby Color with Garnet Tones, Moderate to Moderate Plus Concentration
  • Aromas/Flavors: Moderate Plus Intensity
    • Fruit: Blue Fruit (Plum, Blueberry), Red Fruit (Strawberry, Raspberry, Red Cherry), Black Fruit (Blackberry, Black Cherry), Fig/Fruitcake
    • Floral: Purple Flowers, Violets
    • Herbal: Mint, Bay Leaf, Fern, Tobacco
    • Spice: Licorice/Anise, Christmas Spice
    • Earth: Moderate Plus to High Minerality, Clay, Mushroom/Truffle
    • Oak: Moderate Plus to High Use of New French Oak, Chocolate, Coffee, Cinnamon, Vanilla
  • Structure: Dry, Moderate to Moderate Plus Body, Moderate to Elevated Tannin, Moderate Acidity, Elevated Alcohol

Typical Descriptors and Structure for Napa Merlot

  • Visual: Ruby Color with Blue Tones, Moderate Plus Concentration
  • Aromas/Flavors: Moderate Plus Intensity
    • Fruit: Stewed Fruit Character, Ripe/Lush Blue Fruit (Plum, Blueberry), Ripe Black Fruit (Blackcurrant), Lush Red Fruit (Red Cherry, Raspberry), Fig, Prune 
    • Floral: Purple Flowers, Violets
    • Herbal: Fern, Bay Leaf, Sage
    • Spice: Christmas Spice, Licorice/Anise
    • Earth: Low to Moderate Minerality
    • Oak: Moderate to High Use of New French Oak or Mixed Origin Oak, Chocolate, Coffee, Mocha, Sweet Baking Spices, Vanilla
  • Structure: Dry (with Ripe Attack), Moderate Plus to Full Body, Moderate Tannin, Diminished to Moderate Acidity, Elevated to High Alcohol 

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