Merlot has in the past been known under several guises, including vitraille, crabutet, bigney, semillon rouge and merlot noir.
Much of what Californians used to think was merlot in the Seventies and early Eighties turned out to be cabernet franc – oops!
Soft redcurrant, black cherry and fresh mulberry with hints of coffee and the odd touch of cigar box thrown in for good measure. Often imbued with a lovely chocolatey edge, either milk, dark or occasionally bitter.
Did you know?
Spain’s great Vega Sicilia winery first took delivery of merlot plantings as early as 1864 (and did you really want to know?).
Where to find it
Mainly Bordeaux, but thanks to a fillip of interest from New World winemakers, it’s now more or less universal. California, Western Australia and such eastern bloc countries as Bulgaria and Hungary all give it a good showing.
This article was published on 8th August 2011 so certain details may not be up to date.