There are two versions of the origin of the word that gives the name to this variety. One comes from the Bordeaux dialect, in which Merlot means "petit oiseau noir" (“small black bird”): Merlot is the first grape to sprout from the season, that moment when blackbirds attack the vines to feed themselves. The other theory assimilates the color of the blackbird's plumage with the blackish blue of the berries of the strain.
Characteristics of the grape
The bunches are cylindrical in shape, medium size, with grapes of blackish blue color. The skin is very thick and the pulp is juicy and has a pleasant taste. Requires for planting of fresh soil. Its budding is early, being sensitive to spring frosts and mildew.
Characteristics of the wines
Merlot wines are wines with a high color intensity and high alcohol content. It is a wine that evolves rapidly, with fresh, soft and fruity aromas and elegant body.
The most characteristic aromas of these wines are those of red fruits among them, currants, blackcurrants, blackberries, cassis, sweet peppers, smoke, cherry, violet as well as truffles and leather. It has plum, raisins, honey and mint flavors.
It can be made as a young red wine or as a young wine with a few months in oak barrels.
It is worth mentioning the wide range of possibilities that Merlot offers in terms of food pairing. This type of red wine is ideal with semi-cured cheeses, game, rice or even stews with meat or legumes.
Cultivation and production areas
In France, the regions that stand out the most in the cultivation of this variety are those of the southwest, especially Bordeaux, where it is one of the most cultivated grapes together with Cabernet Sauvignon. At the edge of the Gironde River, Merlot blends with Cabernet Sauvignon and has the function of body and softness. On the other hand, on the margin of Rio Gironde, in the Pomerol and Saint Emillion regions, this variety represents the totality of the mixture. In the South, cultivation has increased in recent years, especially in the Languedoc-Roussillon region.
In Italy, Merlot is widely used in blends of wines produced in the Tuscany region, where it is commonly mixed with grapes from the region, such as Sangiovese, to balance the high acidity of Italian grapes.