Today, we celebrate International Merlot Day 2022 and delve into the world of French merlot. This famous red wine grape is celebrated annually on 7 November.
France is the home of Merlot and to this day still has the majority of the world’s plantings of Merlot. It’s estimated to grow a significant 2/3 of the world’s merlot grapes!
In the family…
There’s a grape called Merlot Blanc but unlike Grenache Blanc and Gris, it is not a mutation of Merlot Noir, but rather, a child of it, resulting from a cross of Merlot Noir with a grape called Folle Blanche, which was prominent in France back before the phylloxera outbreak destroyed it.
And while on the topic of grapes you might not have heard of, it was the researchers at the University of California who discovered through DNA research that Merlot itself comes from a grape, which no longer exists and which they named Magdeleine Noire des Charentes.
That mouthful of a grape name also cloned with other grapes to create Malbec, Guignard de Saintours and Mourtès. So that makes those three grapes Merlot’s half-siblings!
Thirsty to know more about Merlot? Check out last year’s article where we shared 17 things you didn’t know about Merlot. But don’t miss our International Merlot Day 2022 recommendation below.
INTERNATIONAL MERLOT DAY 2022 RECOMMENDATION
As always, we reached out to French wine importers in Australia to hear their French Merlot recommendations.
Ashleigh Huggins from Clos Cachet recommends Mondot – Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2018 for International Merlot Day.
Troplong Mondot is one of the largest vineyards in Saint-Emilion, with vines first established in 1700 with a chateau built in 1745. As a fabulous second wine of the chateau it has the power and finesse of a top Bordeaux blend, with an acute focus on the Merlot grape to bring out the terroir-infused energy with notes of red cherries.
How does French Merlot differ from Australian Merlot?
Bearing many similarities between the two countries, Merlot in Australia is an easy to drink wine that is more tame than most other reds of the country. In France, its primary use is in the bold Bordeaux blends to bring earthy tones, with the ability to stand alone as a strong single varietal wine. Slightly more tannic in France, there are slightly more complex creations of Merlot simply due to the centuries of vine growth and winemaking that has occurred unlike the newer 50 years of plantings in Australia.
What would you pair this Merlot with?
Grilled chops, steak in red wine sauce, roast beef or lamb, and a favourite of crispy duck pancakes.
Happy International Merlot Day 2022! Show us what you’re drinking by tagging @matildamarseillaise on Facebook and instagram!