Merlot is the primary red grape in
Saint Emilion and
Pomerol, and one of two primaries, the other being
Merlot is particularly well adapted for sandy and clay-based
soils. Merlot is characterized by the roundness and suppleness that it confers to the wines. The berry of Merlot is relatively
thin-skinned and somewhat prone to rot. Since Merlot both buds and flowers early, wine growers' main worry is the varietal's susceptibility to shatter or coulure, brought about by frost, rain, or early heat waves in the Spring. But on the positive, because Merlot ripens earlier than either Cabernet-Sauvignon variety, it is highly appreciated when rains are a concern at
harvest. Merlot softens some of the
hard aspects of Cabernet and provides roundness and silky
texture to the wines. While its flavour profile is similar to
Cabernet-Sauvignon, Merlot tends to be less distinctive and slightly more herbaceous overall in both aroma and
taste. Mint, plum, currant and black cherry
aromas mainly characterize it.
Delicate tannins also mark merlot wines. These flavours usually evolve to leather, humus and roasted notes as wines age. Merlot is grown with much success in many hot areas all over the World (Southern of France, Italy, California, Australia, Latin America).