Australian Merlot is a tricky grape to characterize

January 15, 2011

Merlot is mostly famous in its homeland of Bordeaux in France, where it is often used to comprise of the world’s most famous and most expensive wines. Some of the world’s greatest wines are composed almost entirely of Merlot, such as the sought-after Bordeaux wine Chateau Petrus; the most famous producer of French Merlot wines, whose 1990 bottling earned a perfect 100 score from Wine Spectator and its RRP is approx USD$1,700 per bottle. Most notable during the last ten years, is the increased of plantings which have rapidly increased throughout the world; most prominently into California, South America, Italy, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

Merlot is Australia’s 3rd highest produced red grape varieties, coming in after our Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, and Australia produces in excess of 90K tonnes of Merlot annually. This versatile grape has had a mammoth surge in plantings over the last decade, with production soaring by approximately nine-fold! Merlot blends very well and is also highly sought after straight varietal. Its finest expression is found in the delicate reds of the Bordeaux appellations of St Emilion and Pomerol. In the nearby Medoc it is used, however, not to make wines in its own right but to soften and fill tougher Cabernet. Merlot translation is “young blackbird,” a French name; often thought to have derived from the grapes dark colour or used to describe the blackbirds liking of it.

As Merlot is an early ripening variety, it is wonderfully versatile for growing throughout vineyards in Australia, as it will ripen before the winter weather sets in. This sometimes can be detrimental however, as it is susceptible to spring frosts. It tolerates and even thrives in poor conditions that first-rate Cabernet Sauvignon would not survive (including bad quality or moist soils and in cooler regions). Cooler climates produce wonderfully complex Merlots with lots of soft fruit flavours, not often present in warmer climate fruit. The berries are thin skinned, large and quite fragile, with a low tolerance to sunburn and birds and splitting or rotting as soon as any moisture finds the damaged berries.

Australian Merlot mostly thrives in hotter regions, with the largest amounts grown in the hot regions of the Murray Valley & the Riverina, satisfying the majority of Australia’s export market. Merlot is grown throughout most Australian vineyards; from a quality point of view, Australia’s best Merlot comes from well-managed vineyards in cooler areas such as the Adelaide Hills, Eden Valley, Orange and the Limestone Coast (including Coonawarra). In Western Australia, it is markedly successful when blended with Cabernet Sauvignon.

Australian Merlot is a tricky grape to characterise – as its main identity is blurred and there really is no ‘one statement’ to effectively identify its character; from the medium to the full-bodied, from the lightly to the heavily-oaked; and from the soft, to the tough and tannic. A unique, quality Merlot is renowned for its plump & fleshy, supple mid-palate, and is the reason it makes such a good blending, building block. It is widely blended with a string of other grapes for its soft, luscious, velvety fruit characteristics, which soften the harsher varieties.

Most Australian Merlot is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlots flavours and structures complement Cabernet and it helps fill out any middle-palate holes. The tannins and structure are added by the Cabernet Sauvignon and a fruity rich middle-palate from the Merlot. Like Cabernet, Merlot maintains flavours of blackberries, cherries, plumbs, and chocolate and both Cabernets and Merlots are often confused at blind tastings. Merlots also possess a rich and ample softness that many Cabernets are without. However, as a straight varietal, Australian Merlot can often lack prominence of front and back palates which is why few great varietal Merlots exist. This makes for particularly drinkable young wines.

English wine judge Matthew Jukes says Australia makes a wonderful Merlot. “The two Australian Merlots worth drinking are Jim Irvine’s Grand Merlot and the Domaine A Merlot* from Tasmania,” he says. “The critical factor is getting it ripe,” says winemaker Jim Irvine, who’s been making straight Merlot since the ’80s. He says Merlot needs to be decanted for a couple of hours before drinking and enjoyed with food, if it is to show what it can do. “When it’s ripe you get umami – what the English call savoury, like walking into an old butcher’s shop with sawdust on the floor.” Irvine says good Merlot also offers plummy characters, ripe raspberries and leather and tobacco.

Merlot taste first-class when picked at optimum ripeness, close monitoring and correct timeframes can avoid the presence of herbal characters. In its prime, delightful flavours of plums, red currant, mint, earth and leather can be found. Its tannins are invariably soft, making Merlot a good early drinking style, but this does limit its aging potential. Being medium bodied and restrained in style, Merlot suits French oak over American oak, due to its more subtle influence.

One of the best qualities about Merlot is its ability to match well with all different types of food. Try favourite winter dishes like a beef stew, a roast, baked lamb chops or experiment with chilli dishes, rich, Italian-style, red sauced pastas, and even salads. It goes well with an array of dishes and many hosts turn to Merlot for a safe bet! The soft, fleshy nature of Merlot ensures it partners with all foods. The supple sweet fruit characters of some Merlots are best to match with pastas, roasted meats or Mediterranean vegetables and enhance flavours perfectly.

Are these articles useful for enhancing your wine and dine experience in the Philippines. Do they also help you with travel, leisure, vacation, dining out, nightlife and other leisure activities plans in Manila and other major cities of Philippines? Yats Restaurant hopes to provide you with ample information so you can plan your trips to Pampanga Angeles City Clark Freeport Zone whether you are travelling from Manila or other Asian countries such as Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Malaysia or Korea.

Restaurant reservations in Manila Philippines, planning of menu, selection of wine for dinner and booking a private function and event in Angeles City Clark Freeport Zone can all be handled. Yats Restaurant and Wine Bar has been regarded by many to be the premier restaurant north of Manila Philippines. Its 3000-line award-winning restaurant wine list has kept many wine lovers happy dining in this restaurant in Angeles City Clark Philippines for over a decade.

Yats Restaurant and Wine Bar was built by Hong Kong-based Yats International in 2000 to provide a world-class cozy fine dining restaurant, business meeting facilities and venues for private dinners and functions in Pampanga Angeles City Clark Freeport Zone. Pampanga Angeles City Clark Philippines was selected for this restaurant because of safety, clean air, absence of traffic and proximity to Manila and Subic.

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Getting to this fine dining restaurant of Angeles City Clark Freeport Zone Pampanga Philippines
How to get to this fine-dining restaurant in Clark Philippines? Once you get to Clark Freeport, go straight until you hit Mimosa. After you enter Mimosa, stay on the left on Mimosa Drive, go past the Holiday Inn and Yats Restaurant (green top, independent 1-storey structure) is on your left. Just past the Yats Restaurant is the London Pub.

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