Your Guide to Merlot
Did you know that Merlot is actually the second most planted grape variety in the world?
First discovered in France in 1783, this variety was pulled into the spotlight by the famous wine region, Bordeaux.
Pour a glass of the Smithbrook Single Vineyard Merlot and read on as we explore this early-ripening, mellow variety.
What does Merlot taste like?
Merlot is a medium-bodied red wine, and (depending on climate and winemaking style) that medium trend generally carries on to other characteristics too – think medium acidity, medium tannins and medium alcohol.
Largely known for its red fruit profile of raspberry, plum and cherry, Merlot wines also have soft, plush tannins and spice, which means wines can be much more approachable in their youth compared to other high-tannin reds.
How long does Merlot cellar for?
Due to Merlot's soft, supple tannins, Merlot can be drunk much younger than other fuller-bodied red wines. High quality Merlot can also be cellared for decades; wines will evolve with age, producing rich chocolate, cedar and meaty tertiary characteristics.
Merlot and Blends
Merlot has historically been used as a blending variety in Bordeaux's Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant left bank and this trend has also made its way around the world as the term 'Bordeaux blend' has become synonymous with high-quality, expensive and collectable red wines.
As a variety, Merlot ripens much earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon – Merlot fruit usually develops higher sugar levels, riper tannins and full flavour weeks before Cabernet.
Merlot also has lower levels of methoxypyrazines (green, herbaceous characters) compared to Cabernet Sauvignon and this, along with its ripe, rich fruit profile, helps to mellow out Cabernet Sauvignon – especially in difficult vintages. Merlot can also help these wines to be more approachable in their youth.
In Italy, Merlot will often be blended with Sangiovese in the famous region of Chianti in Tuscany and in Spain it can also be blended with Tempranillo.
Merlot was first produced from the spontaneous reproduction of Cabernet Franc and a very rare variety called Magdeleine Noire des Charentes. This means Merlot actually shares half of its DNA with Cabernet Sauvignon!
Merlot around the world
Merlot is the second most planted grape variety in the world with over 270,000 hectares of vines planted across 7 countries (at least!). Merlot is planted in France, America, Chile, Italy, Canada, New Zealand and right at home in Australia.
Merlot was first brought to Australia from California in the early 1990s and today it is planted in almost every wine region across the country, including our very own Pemberton in WA!
Merlot is widely nicknamed the 'chameleon' of the wine world – there are a huge number of styles and expressions depending on the climate it's planted in.
Warmer climates produce more fruit-forward Merlot with ripe dark fruits, a medium- to full-body and lush spice lift.
Cooler climate Merlot tends to be more savoury, with a bright red fruit profile, herbaceous notes, a lighter body and soft, elegant tannins.
The cooler climate of Pemberton allows for the slow ripening of this classic Bordeaux variety, producing exquisitely supple and silky tannins alongside a bright and juicy acidity – hallmarks of high-quality Merlot wines.
On the palate this wine is bursting with blueberry and plums and layered with sweet vanilla oak and warm spice. A light leafy hint and an earthy minerality suspend the soft tannins to produce a medium-bodied wine with delicious weight and texture.
"Deep ruby with a purple tint at the rim. Nose lifts with ripe blood plum and graphite aromas. Palate fills with ripe plums, leafy hints and a dark slate minerality that adds interest to the flow. Tannins are fine-grained to caress and drive it long. Very good value here."
- 91 Points, The Real Review 2022
For a limited time, purchase 5 bottles and receive a bonus bottle of the Smithbrook Single Vineyard Merlot! Simply add 6 bottles to your cart for this automatic discount to apply.