With one character’s line and an Academy Award nomination, the Sideways movie nearly wrote off Merlot completely.
However, this juicy red wine has prevailed and you can find some delicious varieties right here in Australia. The grape offers subtle nuances that require a great deal of finesse to produce the finest expressions.
Merlot is known for its typical aromas of plum, mulberries, mint, chocolate, and a slight herbaceous note with a palate that echoes similar characters.
Here’s why we think you should give this lovely grape a try this summer!
Merlot is a major component in Bordeaux red wines. It provides the base for the world-famous St Emilion and Pomerol blends. It was introduced into Australia in the 1960s to broaden Australia’s offerings. It is grown in nearly every wine region -- excepting the coldest -- but has excelled in the cooler regions.
It mixes well with others
Merlot shows up most often in red blends. It works exceptionally well with Cabernet Sauvignon as it provides a fleshy mid-palate that Cab Sav often lacks. It’s also a fantastic food wine, working well with rich meatier dishes and soft cheeses.
It’s making its mark in Australia
Merlot is the third most planted red grape varietal in the country. Australian Merlot often shows roundness and a pleasant soft expression.
Its silky mid-palate and juicy berry flavours appear to those seeking a lighter drop than a straight Cab Sav or Shiraz. Black Wattle produces excellent Merlot in the cooler climates of the Mt Benson and Limestone Coast regions in South Australia.
It can be temperamental
Merlot can be a little fussy throughout the growing season. It can often produce mixed bunches of large berries with strong green tannins. In order to mollify the wines’ expression, Merlot is often left to over-ripen.
But it’s a big softie!
Merlot has a soft texture which means that it is a good red wine for white wine drinkers. It is typically a dry, medium-to-full-bodied wine with moderate acidity and soft but present tannins. Although a generally dry wine, Merlot is full to the brim with plump juicy blackberries, cherries, and plums often layered with notes of cedar, clove, and vanilla when aged in oak.