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The name of Merlot is derived from a French Merle (Merlau in Occitan) means a little blackbird. The association might be the color since Merlot grape exhibits a dark blue appearance yet record states that the blackbird likes the grape very much. It is a popular red grape varietal next to Cabernet Sauvignon in America and contradictory in Bordeaux, Merlot is the most widely planted grape in the Bordeaux wine regions followed by Cabernet Sauvignon.

Merlot is a half-sibling of Malbec through their common mother, Magdeleine Noire des Charentes varietal while Merlot's father is Cabernet Franc. The varietal has early budding and mid-ripening with two main winemaking styles. First, the "international style" practice by most of the new world wine regions allowing the grape to achieve physiological maturity through late harvesting that makes the wine be fuller, high in alcohol with intense plum and blackberry fruit. The other is the traditional "Bordeaux style" of harvesting early to maintain the acidity, average alcohol with red fruits and some green and vegetal notes.  

Source: Wine Grapes 

A complete guide to 1,368 vine varieties, including their origins and flavors

Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding, and Jose Vouillamouz

Published by the Penguin Group

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