It is one of the most popular red wine varieties planted. Best examples of this grape are grown in Pomerol and St- Emilion in Bordeaux, France and generally blended with Cabernet Franc. It also makes up one of the blending components in some of the best clarets in the world (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, sometimes Malbec and Petit Verdot included) from the left bank side of the Gironde River in Bordeaux. Other notable plantings include Northern Italy, California, Australia and Chile. There is quite a high percentage planted in South Africa and usually used as a blending tool with a handful of premium quality wines made solely from Merlot. It is best suited on warmer west facing slopes in cooler climates. Since the berries contain high levels of green compounds, cluster exposure by leaf removal and crop management is crucial to make wines of depth, flavour and ripeness without the green characters. Elgin’s cool climate allows for extended cluster hang time so that proper vine and cluster ripeness is achieved without compromising flavour and tannin structure as the variety is very sensitive to heat stress.
Its tannin structure is less austere than the other blending components and is considered to have more feminine attributes. Merlot has black fruit aromatics with a fleshy and mouth filling core.