Merlot has got some major vineyard acres under its belt. It is planted so widely that there’s only one wine grape with more roots in the ground, and that’s Cabernet Sauvignon.
According to Wine Business Monthly: “Merlot is grown all across the globe, including countries as diverse as Italy, Romania, Australia, Argentina, Bulgaria, Chile, Greece, Hungary, Mexico and South Africa. It is the second most-planted grape in Israel and can be found in Turkey, Croatia and Slovenia. In the United States, California and Washington have had the most success with the variety, but even Long Island, New York is having a successful go with it.”
It’s popular for good reason. It has the chops to adapt to a variety of climates and still retain an approachable, supple texture. It’s a key element in Bordeaux, a cornerstone to the iconic blends there, with some estimates reporting that two-thirds of Merlot in the world is at home in France.
Merlot has sides. Climate expression, from cool to warm, brings out profile differences. The New World and Old World also treat this variety differently.
Wines To Try
L’Occasion participates in #MerlotMe each year. This is an opportunity to sample Merlot in conjunction with others in the wine trade, as well as wine lovers who get in on the action. The month of October is dedicated this event.
This year, my cup runneth over with samples that came to my door! (The weather here has been pleasant enough for deliveries, which has helped.) So I have many wines to suggest to readers—a big #MerlotMe 2020 celebration.
Two of the first wines that arrived were paired with a meal we made, a customary favorite stew that we prepare several times during the fall and winter season. It is a riff on cassoulet, based on sausage and white beans, but we also had shaved ham, tomatoes, mushrooms, parmesan cheese and tons of seasonings. Come to think of it—the meal now bears little resemblance to cassoulet, but in spirit, the hardiness and richness is there. We loved this with two bottles of Merlot:
L’Ecole N° 41 Columbia Valley Merlot 2017 ($24)
Chelsea Goldschmidt Alexander Valley Guidestone Rise Merlot 2018 ($25)
In addition to the pairing, we’ve got more to try out and I’m challenging readers to choose one or two to experience over the month of October. Keep this list around when it comes time to plan for Thanksgiving, holiday gift giving or your own meals at home. Most are available right now online, some will be at your local store, and most have an accessible price.
Here’s what is most special about Merlot. The care, thought, work and inspiration that these growers and winemakers put into this variety.
Trefethan The Cowgirl and The Pilot Merlot 2017 ($90)
Markham Napa Valley Merlot 2017 ($29)
Duckhorn Vineyards Napa Valley Merlot 2017 ($56)
Decoy Sonoma County Merlot 2018 ($25)
Mt. Brave Mt. Veeder Merlot 2016 ($80)
Hickinbotham The Revivalist Merlot McLaren Vale 2017 ($75)
LaJota Vineyard Howell Mountain Merlot 2017 ($85)
Rutherford Hill Rosé of Merlot 2019 ($34)
Rutherford Hill Atlas Peak Merlot 2017 ($60)
McIntyre Vineyards Kimberly Vineyard Merlot Arroyo Seco 2016 ($28)
Les Cadrans de Lassègue 2016 ($30)
Additional Merlot Reading
Foolproof Pairing for #MerlotMe Month | on L’Occassion
#MerlotMe In The Kitchen: A #WinePW Special | on L’Occassion
Merlot: The Busy One | on L’Occasion
Evenings With Merlot | on L’Occasion
Washington State Merlot Charms With Quality And Taste | on Forbes
Wine Pairing Weekend
Join the Wine Pairing Weekenders at 10am central on October 10, 2020 to discuss Merlot wine and food pairings. Look for hashtags #MerlotMe and #WinePW.
There is so much to read along this month, with 20 participants! If that doesn’t provide a testament to the special qualities of Merlot, what does? Here’s what’s on:
- Andrea at The Quirky Cork shares “Three Turkish Merlots”
- Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares “Merlot: A Varietal That Plays Well with Others”
- Cindy at Grape Experiences shares “Sip Merlot with Vegetarian Favorites”
- Deanna at Asian Test Kitchen shares “Fall Vegan Menu Paired with 2016 Napa Merlots”
- David at Cooking Chat shares “Merlot Food Pairing: Tips and Favorites”
- Gwendolyn at Wine Predator shares “Meatloaf and #MerlotMe with Sonoma’s Selby and Columbia Valley’s L’Ecole No. 41”
- Jane at Always Ravenous shares “Merlot Pairing: Baked Pasta with Sausage Ragù”
- Jeff at Food Wine Click! shares “A Tale of Two Merlots at the Grill”
- Jill at L’Occasion shares “What’s So Special About Merlot?”
- Jennifer at Vino Travels shares “Fall is Here! Warm up with a Merlot and Pot Roast Pairing”
- Lauren at The Swirling Dervish shares “October is #MerlotMe Month: Here’s What I’ve Been Sipping”
- Linda at My Full Wine Glass shares “Kicking off #MerlotMe in the Pacific time zone”
- Liz at What’s in that Bottle? shares “Make Room for Merlot!”
- Lori at Exploring the Wine Glass shares “Leaves on the Ground and #MerlotMe in my Glass”
- Lynn at Savor the Harvest shares “Next Gen Merlot From Where It All Started”
- Martin at Enofylz shares “A Meatless #MerlotMe Redux”
- Nicole at Somms Table shares “5 #MerlotMe Nights”
- Payal at Keep the Peas shares “Kicking Off Autumn With #Merlotme”
- Pinny at Chinese Wine & Food Pairings shares “#MerlotMe with Markham and L’Ecole No. 41 Merlots and Army Ramen”
- Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles shares “Merlot from elegant to badass. Time to #Merlotme.”
- Rupal at Syrah Queen shares “#MerlotMe – Best Food Pairings For Merlot”
- Susannah at Avvinare shares “Brazilian Merlot Is Always Welcome At My Table”
- Terri at Our Good Life shares “Merlot Me with Noodless Lasagne”
- Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm shares “Woohoooooooo….It is #MerlotMe month”
17 thoughts on “What’s So Special About Merlot?”
I love the photoshoot of the bottles with the fall colors and leaves! It really makes me want to drink more Merlot to get into the season!
Beautiful presentation of the #MerlotMe wines. Can’t wait to read more about your pairings and compare notes on the ones I have, too!
I love the fall feel of your photos. They make me want to snuggle up in a sweater with one of these bottles. Looking forward to hearing the rest of the pairings, although that soup sounds wonderful.
So many lovely bottles and your photos are stunning with the leaves. I think that your cassoulet inspired stew sounds delicious! (Everything is better with cheese, right?) you are so right about these being great Thanksgiving wines.
Thank you Robin! Totally agree about the cheese. 100%!
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Lots of Merlot choices in these seasonal fall photos. The modified Cassoulet sounds divine!
oh my! You have hit the Merlot jackpot! I have had a few of them but I think my favorite in the past was the Mt. Brave. It just goes to show how many quality Merlot there are!
Your cup does indeed runneth over. I hope you have a Coravin!
Looks like you got quite the abundance of Merlot this year. That happened to me last year and although I was overwhelmed with wines and pairings it was a great experience to taste the vast array.
Merlot is like milk, it’s abundant. However as you say, it’s the care, thought, inspiration of the growing and wine making team that set the grape / wine apart. You have some amazing bottles there Jill!