08 Sep Merlot wine planted in increasing quantities
Wine Through The Ages
Wine has been around for centuries, known to be dated as far back as 6000 BC, and comes in many difference varieties and prices. It’s origins are so far back that it predates written records. Wine has also had many religious and mythical implications throughout the centuries. From the last supper to the Greek mythical god Dionysus becoming the god of wine. All this shows that wine has been a part of human culture for as long as humans have been cultured, and maybe even longer.
This day in age wine is more used for its health benefits, to unwind, or to signify things like social status. The latter is usually where cost comes in. Your average wine won’t be hard on the pocket, although it may be hard on the stomach. Then there are some wines that sell for nearly R204,225.22 a bottle, in which case if you buy them you may have to apologize to your children for blowing their college fund. Neither of which is a very good outcome. Thankfully the tried and true wine of Merlot has kept people, pocket, and their kids college funds happy for centuries while still appealing to all markets.
Let’s Take a Look At The History of Merlot Wine
Merlot wine has been around for at least 230 years. Its earliest recorded mention was in the notes of a Bordeaux official back in 1784. The name comes from the Occitan word “merlot” which means young blackbird. It is believed that it was named that because of the grape’s dark blue color or because black birds like to eat the grapes–maybe a combination of both. By the turn of the 19th century the main planting area was in the Medoc on the Left Bank of the Gironde.
Merlot has not had the easiest of runs. There have been a series of significant setbacks along its way to becoming a commercially viable and popular wine. 1956 had a severe frost that left much of the vineyard unusable. In the 1960s several of their vintages were lost to rot. French authorities even banned new plantings of Merlot vines in Bordeaux between 1970 and 1975.
It was not until the 1990’s that Merlot really took hold of North America and saw a major increase in popularity. It was with the help of 60 Minutes that saw red wine consumption increase and Merlot rise further above the competition. When the health benefits of red wine were revealed, it also added to the public want for Merlot. Another fact that the average citizen likes about Merlot is it is easy to pronounce. Unlike some other wines where the name is hard to say, Merlot rolls off of the tongue and gives people the satisfaction of being able to pronounce what they are drinking. Sometimes it is the littlest things that can have the greatest impact and Merlot’s name has worked in its favor.
Grapes of Merlot Wine
Merlot wine has a large dependence on the grapes that are harvested. Merlot relies a lot on the grapes for its taste and it strives to keep that quality in its grapes to ensure happy consumers. In some cases though the vineyard will produce a cheap, yet drinkable wine. It may not have any such distinctions of its counterpart Merlot’s, but it services the needs of its many consumers and has become a great afternoon staple because it is not too fruity or acidic.
The grapes have a few different choices when it comes to being picked. They can be picked when they first ripen and they tend to have a better acidity. This helps by allowing the wine to last longer before it becomes something no one wants to drink. The grapes which get picked later in their maturity cycle, tend to mature faster in the bottle and have a depth of fruit within that makes the taste something many consumers enjoy.
But what makes the grape? The vine. The vine that produces Merlot’s wine is more inclined to cold climates and clay soils. The catch is it is still susceptible to frost and rot. So it still needs to remain relatively warm and dry. Many Merlot growers attempt to grow Merlot vines with another vine, hoping to get multiple harvests. This ensures that some grapes survive and bud.
Where To Plant
France is still home to nearly two-thirds of Merlot’s plantings. It produces everything from the R136.15 table Merlot wines to the ones that can range in the thousands. Merlot has many brands, most of which strives to meet the price range of the average consumer, but some of which strive to be better. New vineyards have cropped up in South Africa, California and other states across America. Argentina and Chile are also becoming great suppliers and producing top notch Merlot. Merlot now has a global reach and whatever the climate may be of its vineyards, there are many different flavors its grape can create. This leaves Merlot with plenty to offer even the smallest wine connoisseur.