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Merlot Wine Varietal Definition

Merlot grapes growing the French wine region of Bourg AOC on the right bank of Bordeaux.

This variety was once relegated to blending status, but in the last 20 years it has taken on an identity of its own. When varietally bottled, Merlot has herbal and fruity flavors similar to Cabernet, but also has a smooth and supple character in the mouth without the bite of tannins. It complements the same types of food that Cabernet does, albeit less distinctly. Top producers hail from Bordeaux (where the wine is mostly blended with Cabernet but sometimes bottled separately, depending on the region), Chile, Argentina, Napa, Sonoma and Washington state. Other successful regions in the U.S. include Virginia and Long Island, New York.

See our Top Merlot reviews
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(Updated: 11/19/12 JLD)

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