The Americas’ oldest wine producing country, Mexico began to produce wine grapes just one year after the arrival of the Spanish in 1520. In the next decade, King Carlos V of Spain ordered that every ship headed to the New World carry vines for cultivation. Over time viticulture spread northwards through the missions into today’s state of California but since then Mexican viticulture and winemaking has faced many challenges. Today the country is experiencing a rebirth with renewed interest in its potential. While there are seven wine producing states in Mexico, the Mediterranean climate of Baja California makes it Mexico’s most important. Most of the state of California’s principal varieties grow here with great success.
With generous fruit and supple tannins, Merlot is made in a range of styles from everyday-drinking to world-renowned and age-worthy. Merlot is the dominant variety in the wines from Bordeaux’s Right Bank regions of St. Emilion and Pomerol, where it is often blended with Cabernet Franc to spectacular result. Merlot also frequently shines on its own, particularly in California’s Napa Valley. Somm Secret—As much as Miles derided the variety in the 2004 film, Sideways, his prized 1961 Château Cheval Blanc is actually a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.