The year 1784, the country France, the title ‘one of the area’s best grape’ and the recipient was none other than the humble Merlot, though it wasn’t until 1824 the name ‘Merlot’ was assigned to the grape, perhaps because of the colour which reminded one of a ‘merle’ which is a French blackbird.
Merlot is by no means a young or new grape, the origins of the grape itself can be traced back to 14th century where the grape variety was still known as “Crabatut Noir”. Though the origins of the grape remained a mystery until quite recently when it was unearthed through DNA analysis this grapes elusive parents!
Until recently little was known about the ancestors of the grape. But shortly before the millennium, in 1999 an Austrian scientist, Fredinand Regner discovered through DNA analysis techniques the father of this popular grape was none other than Cabernet Franc. But it wasn’t until 10 years later that Merlot’s mother was identified too, by Jean-Michel Boursiquot. And the grape in question to be the maternal roots is the ‘Magdeleine Noire des Charentes’. A grape long thought to be extinct, until by some small chance a vine was rediscovered in 2004 in Saint-Suliac, Brittany.
As the wine goes thought its life span, merlot elicits some interesting hues, that in a strange way is can be assimilated to a human’s life span. When young the wine can be opaque (or semi-opaque) with a deep ruby red colour, shimmering with a brick/orange glow at the rim. As it ages it loses pigmentation and brightness, turning garnet.
Like most reds, Merlot loves to be served between 15 to 18°C and ideally you should let it breathe a bit before indulging, around 20 -30 minutes should do the trick.
If you are after a little treat to ‘warm the cockles’ we recommend Oldenburg Vineyards Merlot 2016, this one has been done right! With many other Merlots and blends on offer, you can be sure to find one to give you the feeling of knowing you have arrived!