Well hello, Merlot! It’s International Merlot Day, and we’re shining the light on the red wine grape that’s near and dear to our wine-lovin’ hearts. Merlot is the varietal that earns our premium Luxx label time and again. So, what’s to love about Merlot? Let’s start at the beginning.
Merlot was first noted as a grape of importance and distinction in Bordeaux, France. Along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot is one of the two major Bordeaux grapes, explains Missa Capozzo, our Director of Sommology. In fact, Bordeaux produced on the Left Bank tends to be Merlot dominant. “Merlot is an extremely popular grape worldwide and grows well in almost every wine growing region in the world.”
It’s an undeniable truth in winemaking, however, that California Merlot consistently delivers wine quality and value. Merlot grows nicely all over the state, but for our Luxx, we went south to Paso Robles, California, to farm the fruit for this wine, heeding the current buzz among vintners and winemakers that Paso Robles vineyards are now in the same stage of development that Napa Valley was several decades ago. Indeed, Paso Robles is a wine region to watch, especially if you love Bordeaux varietals.
Our Luxx Merlot is a classic expression of the quality and richness one can expect out of Paso these days, lip-smacking and plummy with notes of black tea and good structure. “Merlot tends to display notes of blueberry, raspberry, black plum, and black cherry, with notes of graphite, tobacco, vanilla, and clove,” Missa says. It’s a softer-textured red wine, typically medium in acidity, medium in tannin, and medium to high in alcohol.
“It’s a wonderful choice when hosting dinner parties, as it pairs with a variety of foods, from leaner meats like chicken and pork, to heavier meats like prime rib,” she says.
Here’s a story Missa says is a must-know about Merlot! “Merlot sales plummeted in the U.S. in 2005 due to the Academy Award-nominated movie Sideways. In the film, quirky main character Miles Raymond, played by Paul Giamatti, trashed this grape’s reputation. He boasted about how superior Pinot Noir was to Merlot in the movie, and suddenly Merlot sales dropped, and Pinot Noir sales skyrocketed in the U.S. In fact, Pinot Noir production in California increased by 170 percent! This has come to be known as The Sideways Effect.”
Thankfully, Merlot sales have recovered. And, once you taste our Merlot, you’ll know why this grape has easily regained a place of importance among red varietals. Are you ready to say Merlot to our little friend, Luxx?
Schedule an in-home wine tasting with a Traveling Vineyard Wine Guide near you and we’ll make it happen.