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Merlot Luvliness

Merlot Luvliness

Merlot Luvliness

Merlot Luvliness

Merlot Luvliness

Merlot is considered to be an entry level, easy drinking, palate teaser by geeky wine folk.

Typically Merlot is a smooth fruity wine (plum, black cherry) with medium body and medium tannin, produced by fleshy plump grapes in wine regions all over the world.

The Merlot most of us know is just as I described. We love it and drink it by the bucketload! It's easy to drink, doesn't offend our palates or make us pull sour faces.

Merlot Luvliness

The thing with Merlot is that it changes (like many grape varieties) depending upon where it comes from.

Merlot grown in warm climates IS like I described above and is often sold as 100% Merlot in the bottle  - the bottle that is clearly marked Merlot so that we know what we're getting. Merlot grown in cooler climates isn't like that at all, well especially when it's young and part of a blend.

Trying to describe the differences between the two types of Merlot is complex and (sometimes) boring to those who simply want to try a new wine so I'll try to explain it in plain talk.

Merlot Luvliness

Warm Climate Merlot

Merlot grapes are fleshy and plump so in hot/warm climates the flesh inside holds a lot of sugar and flavour while the skins develop and ripen quickly keeping tannin low (tannin is in the skin and seeds of grapes, the thicker the skin, the more tannin). Sugar turns to alcohol during the fermentation process so grapes have to be harvested before they have too much sugar or the wine will be "hot" (a term used to describe a lot of alcohol in wine).  Wines from warm climates tend to have a higher alcohol content that cool climate Merlots. As the grapes develop relatively quickly, tannin is minimalized allowing the skins to have fruitier flavours.

In a Nutshell - Warm Climate Merlots are often bottled as 100% merlot, have loads of fruit flavour, less tannin and are what wine-geeks call silky and generous. What's not to like about that?

 

Cool Climate Merlot

By contrast cool climate Merlots take longer to ripen allowing the skins to thicken and produce more tannin. Sugar levels are lower so alcohol levels are lower and sometimes a longer fermentation process. Because the grapes spend longer times on the vines they pick up other flavours from the surrounding environment (a term called "terroir") so along with their fruity flavours there are often nuances of mineral, licorice, pepper and tobacco. To make cool climate more drinkable it is often blended with other varietals, most commonly Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec (making up the classic "Bordeaux Blend")

In a Nutshell - Cool Climate Merlots are often more structured (meaning there are many different layers of flavour and texture to work through) with tougher tannins and can take time to become silky and smooth. Also these can be difficult to drink for those looking for "fruity and fleshy" as they rarely are. Given time though and a cool climate Merlot is incredible and an unrivaled treat.

Merlot Luvliness

Where to go from here?

Well, warm climate Merlots are pretty well signposted label wise so I'll leave them alone for now.

Cool climate Merlots aren't so easy to navigate unless you have a bit of direction so here's a few pointers to get you started:

France - Bordeaux is home to Merlot so try some of these: Pomerol, St. Emilion, Bordeaux - Côtes de Bourg, Bordeaux - Côtes de Blaye

Italy - Fruili Merlots, Veneto Merlots, some Super Tuscans

Switzerland - Ticino Merlots (if you can find them)

Merlot Luvliness

One for the cellar:

Here I'll be adding wines that I think are awesome as I find them (and drink them). There'll be no long-winded tasting notes but (hopefully) a quick description and a link to where you can find it.

I'd love your feedback too, tell me what you think of them if you get to try them.

Pomerol

La Croix Taillefer 2005 Pomerol

I cracked this bottle yesterday, it had been in my cellar for a few years and I have been eagerly eyeing it up for ages. I have to say it didn't dissapoint at all, it was everything I hoped for and worth the wait (which normally i'm adverse to!)

Smooth, silky, soft, fruity with just the right amount of tannin for me. I had it as a glass (or 2) on it's own but I can imagine this with a lightly grilled meat such as lamb or even something like grilled Aubergines (eggplant) would be lovely with this.

Not cheap though - this cost me around €18 a bottle so a bit of a treat.

Bought it in the Foire aux Vins (wine fair) in Eleclerc supermarket in France

UK - Waitrose are stocking the 2005 vintage

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