A Wine Lover’s Guide To Malbec And Merlot Grapes

Many feel that the red Malbec grape originated in southwestern France before expanding to the Bordeaux region in the 1780s and then proceeded on to Touraine in northwestern France. Although it is losing popularity in these regions, Malbec is widely grown in Argentina, where it is the most popular red grape variety, as well as in Chile, in Australia, and in the United States.

Malbec’s characteristics vary quite a bit depending on where it is grown and how it is vinified. Generally this grape produces a light style, well colored sweet wine that tastes of plums, berries, and spice. Malbec-based wines mature quickly and are best consumed young. Malbec grapes are usually blended with other varieties such as Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon , Merlot, and Petit Verdot to make Bordeaux style wines, in which their role is to add color, fruit, and acidity. Malbec reaches its peak of excellence in the wines of St Emilion and Graves.

You might want to try an Argentine Malbec with Leg of Lamb, Roast Chicken, or Roast Beef. You might want to try a Malbec-based Bordeaux with large Game, Beef Stew, Duck or Goose. Over the years I have reviewed only a few Malbec wines, notably from Argentina both as a varietal and as a blend, and from Chile, blended with Syrah.

It is believed that the red Merlot grape originated in the Bordeaux region of southwestern France and has become increasingly popular in southern France. Merlot is the most widely planted red grape in Bordeaux, in part because it ripens early. It is also found in Chile, Italy, Australia, and in the US, especially in California and Washington.

Merlot has an aromatic bouquet and tastes of berries and plums. It usually has a medium red color, and is medium bodied, soft, and round. Merlot tends to be enjoyed young. It blends well with Cabernet Sauvignon; Merlot’s softness counterbalances Cabernet Sauvignon’s hardness and powerful tannins. Often Cabernet Franc is added to the mix. Many great, and not so great, Bordeaux wines are combinations of these three varieties. The world-famous, very pricey Chateau Petrus Bordeaux is 95% or more Merlot.

Merlot wines pair well with Couscous, Mousakka, spicy Chinese food, and Tuna. Don’t waste a Chateau Petrus on Mousakka or canned Tuna.

Over the years I have reviewed almost too many Merlots to count, in a variety of price ranges. Their origins included Bordeaux, Italy, Argentina, California, Chile, and Israel. Several were Kosher.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.