Vine varieties: Merlot

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

The rate of growth of Merlot has outpaced all others since 1990 even though Australia took an unusually long time to follow California’s lead with the variety. In 1990, there were 509 ha/1,257 acres planted (almost 40% of which was not yet bearing) whereas in 2013, 131,575 tonnes were picked. As in California, there seems to be confusion over issues of flavour, structure, and style, well covered in the general discussion of the variety in this book. To the extent that there is consensus in Australia, it lies with structure and style: the wine should be medium-bodied, supple, and with soft, ripe tannins. As for flavour and style, some producers favour savoury, olive tones while others seek sweet, red berry fruit, just as some accept more new oak than others. The marketplace (both domestic and export) apparently regards these issues as irrelevant, and happily soaks up the wine in all of its manifestations.