How much do you know about Merlot? Before you start quoting Sideways and say you’re not drinking any, let’s take a closer look at the third most grown wine in the world.
Merlot wine is a varietal made from the Merlot grape, which is also used in any number of blended wines. The name Merlot is thought to come from the Old French word for “young blackbird.” This was either because of the grapes gorgeous dark-blue color, or from the delight that blackbirds find in eating the grapes.
Merlot may be an offspring of the Cabernet Franc grape, and is a sibling of Carménère and Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes are identified by loose bunches of large berries with a thinner skin, fewer tannins and a higher sugar content than a Cabernet Sauvignon. The softness of the Merlot grape, along with its earlier ripening, makes it a good choice for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon, which ripens later and tends to be higher in tannin.
There are three main styles of Merlot. You can either have a soft, fruity, smooth wine with very little tannins, a fruity wine with a medium tannic structure, or a brawny highly tannic style made in the profile of a Cabernet Sauvignon. Some of the fruit notes commonly associated with Merlot include cassis, black and red cherries, blackberry, blueberry, boysenberry, mulberry and plum. Vegetable and earthy notes include black and green olives, cola nut, bell pepper, fennel, humus, leather, mushrooms, rhubarb and tobacco. Floral and herbal notes commonly associated with Merlot include green and black tea, eucalyptus, laurel, mint, oregano, pine, rosemary, sage, sarsaparilla and thyme. When Merlot has spent significant time in oak, the wine may show notes of caramel, chocolate, coconut, coffee bean, dill weed, mocha, molasses, smoke, vanilla and walnut.
Our own Hawk Haven Merlot was such a hit that we completely sold out! Our 2007 Estate Merlot was an exceptionally balanced wine, with a delicate harmony of soft, rounded tannins and rich concentrations of fruit. The lush plum flavors and notes of blackberry and cherry lent themselves to a smooth and velvety finish.
So what are we doing telling you about a wine that’s sold out? Besides starting some deep cravings for a delicious Merlot, we want to get you all geared up for the release of our 2008 Merlot! On August 13th we will be releasing our new Merlot, and every indication is that it is going to be just as good as last year. Visit our website and sign up for our email newsletter for more information on this and other events at Hawk Haven.