distinct, dry, medium to full-bodied red wine with an aroma similar
to plums and cherries with hints of black tea, chocolate and coffee.
Its gentle fruit components are often used to soften Cabernet's
It ripens earlier than Cabernet making it, along with
its softer character and different fruit flavors, a perfect addition
in the Bordeaux region. Besides being a flavor enhancer, it also
provides an insurance policy against inclement weather destroying
the Cabernet crop. In those cases, the wine would have more Merlot
In California, it is often used to blend with Cabernet as
well as standing on its own, occasionally with Cabernet blended
in for added body.
A few outstanding examples exist, but it relegated to a minor role
in inexpensive blends with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and the like.
unknown in the late 70s, Merlot has become one of the hottest grapes
in the state. While it still trails Cabernet Sauvignon in acreage,
its growth in the 90s far outweighed the growth of Cabernet. In
Napa and Sonoma it can produce a big, Cabernet-like wine as well
as a traditional softer, juicier offering. Santa Barbara County
is turning out impressive wines, most blended with Cabernet Franc.
in the left bank (the Medoc, Côtes de Bordeaux and Graves) to make
primarily lighter-styled, earlier maturing wines, especially in
the outlying areas like Moulis and Listrac, although there are exceptions.
In the right bank, especially in Pomerol, it is transformed into
a huge, age worthy, powerhouse with few threats to its world domination
of the grape. Very dark and dense with heady aromas and flavors.
A lesser role is played in St. Emilion where Cabernet Franc takes
the lead, but the best are blends of the two.
grown in the Northeast along with Cabernet Sauvignon and similarly
styled. Its light and fruity components make it an early maturing
wine for everyday quaffing. The serious winemakers in Tuscany, however,
are turning out Bordeaux-like clones with this grape in the same
fashion as they are with Cabernet Sauvignon. Many outstanding examples
exist, some blended with Cabernet Sauvignon or Franc and some even
with Syrah and some unblended.
far, the only successful version of the Bordeaux grapes with a few
excellent examples in the warmer North Island. The cool climate,
though, still supersedes in producing herbal tones in most of the
mainstay in Chile and growing in popularity in Argentina. With few
exceptions, the finished wine is soft and easy to drink without
much character. Those exceptions are likely to increase as foreign
investors are looking to Chile's vast plantable acreage to raise
the bar of both quality and price. Whether Chile has the soil to
produce truly world-class wine from this grape remains to be seen.
excels with this grape, often besting California's Napa and Sonoma
versions. The Columbia Valley's cool nights and longer hours of
sunshine can produce wines of incredible longevity. New York's Long
Island has had tremendous success with this grape, although precious
little is produce