Merlot is a red wine variety that developed from a crossing of Cabernet Franc and Magdeleine Noire des Charentes. The variety’s name derived from a Bordeaux word that means “little blackbird”, either because these birds were of the same black bluish colour as the grapes or because they particularly preferred eating Merlot grapes. The variety has been in the Bordeaux region of France since the early 18th Century. Production in France suffered numerous set backs since the 1950s, starting with a severe frost destroyed many Merlot (and Malbec) vines. New vines were planted as replacements the year thereafter, but the majority of these were destroyed by rot. Each new planting attempt, seemed to be met with disaster. The situation was so dire that the French authorities in 1970 placed a ban on the planting of new Merlot. The ban was lifted in 1975 due to the increasing popularity of the wines in the rest of the world.
Merlot is loved for it’s boisterous black cherry flavours, supple tannins, and chocolatey finish. On the high end, it’s often mistaken with Cabernet Sauvignon and commonly blended with it. In the early nineties, Merlot suffered from a poor public image. In California, most were lush, soft, flabby, and borderline sweet. Then, when the movie, Sideways, came out in 2004, Merlot sales dropped almost 2% If only people knew of the elegant and structured potential of this grape! There’s more to Merlot than meets the eye. Take a look at the Platform 62 wine list.
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