French Merlot Wine
Learn about French Merlot wine, common tasting notes, where the region is and more ...
Merlot is justifiably famous for its role in Bordeaux, where it occupies over 60% of the acres under vine. It reaches its highest potential on the Right Bank when grown in the clay and gravel-based soils of Pomerol and the limestone and clay-based soils of Saint-Emilion. In both appellations it is commonly blended with Cabernet Franc, which is actually a genetic parent of Merlot. On the Left Bank this variety often plays more of a supporting role to Cabernet Sauvignon (Merlot’s half-sibling), which favors the gravelly soils on that side of the Gironde River.
While Merlot is capable of producing age worthy, first class wines, in sub-regions outside of those noted above, it can serve as the workhorse grape of Bordeaux for many reasons. It ripens early, especially in comparison to Cabernet Sauvignon, which makes it a great hedge in difficult years when adverse weather can disrupt the latter’s harvest. It boasts a fruity, plummy fleshiness that offers delightful counterpoint to the sometimes intense structure of both Cabernets. Plus, it offers a friendly accessibility that allows it to be enjoyed younger.
In addition to being the number one grape in Bordeaux, it is also the most widely planted variety in all of France. Considerable plantings exist in SW France and in Languedoc-Roussillon, where over 70,000 acres are under cultivation. Merlot from these regions does not rise to the heights achieved on the Right Bank, but many good versions are made, especially when growers work to control the yields of these potentially prolific vines.
Chateau La Fleur de Gay 2007Merlot from Pomerol, Bordeaux, France