A vigorous and productive variety that hails from the Bordeaux region of France. Long considered the most important varietal in Bordeaux it is still the most planted varietal there despite the emergence of Cabernet Sauvignon as a more "market friendly" grape. Merlot is productive in many areas of the world. It buds, flowers and ripens early, and takes well to moist soils and cooler climates than many other red wine grapes. Similar in style to the Cabernet, Merlot has a full body, lots of black fruits, and aromas and flavors of chocolate, spices and violets are common. Can have trouble with rot, mildew and coulure.
The best Merlot comes from the right bank of the Gironde river in Bordeaux in the communes of Pomerol and St. Emillon. The clay soils there produce some of the most famous names in wine: Petrus, Ausone, Le Pin. Merlot is also the #1 red grape in California where it became famous for its low tannins and easy-drinking style. Also popular in northern Italy (Friuli, Veneto and Alto Adige), Hungary (where it is known as Médoc Noir) and Chile, though many of the wines from the Colchagua region of Chile are actually Carmenère.