It is believed that Merlot originated in the Bordeaux region of southwestern France. It has become increasingly popular in southern France. It is the most widely planted red grape in Bordeaux, in part because it ripens early. It is also found in Chile, Italy, Australia, and in the US, especially in California and Washington.Merlot image first published in Victor Rendu, Ampelographie francaise, comprenant la statistique, la description des meilleurs cepages, l'analyse chimique du sol et les procedes de culture et de vinification des principaux vignobles de la France. [2nd ed.]Paris: Masson, 1857.
Merlot has an aromatic bouquet and tastes of berries and plums. It usually has a medium red color, and is medium bodied, soft, and round. Merlot is generally enjoyed young. It blends well with Cabernet Sauvignon; Merlotís softness counterbalances Cabernet Sauvignon's hardness and strong tannins. Often Cabernet Franc is added to the mix. Many great, and not so great, Bordeaux wines are combinations of these three varieties. The world-famous and very pricey Chateau Petrus Bordeaux is 95% or more Merlot.
Merlot goes well with Couscous, Mousakka, spicy Chinese food, and Tuna. Donít waste a Chateau Petrus on Mousakka or canned Tuna.
See My Own French Wine Articles for a clickable list of French Merlot wines.