Merlot is extraordinary in its flexibility, able to be paired with many different grapes to create magnificent blends, but easily stands on its own in varietal wines. Sometimes mistaken for Cabernet Sauvignon in blind tastings, the two grapes are both descendents of Cabernet Franc and can display similar flavors and textures, although Merlot is known for being softer and less tannic. Aromas and flavors include blackberry, cassis, baked cherries, dark chocolate and mocha, among others. Merlot ranks as the second most-widely grown grape in the world, but reigns supreme in the Médoc district of Bordeaux.
California-grown Merlot grapes produce what is known as “Warm-Climate Merlot”, which is the category that Merlot grown in Australia and Argentina also fall under. These grapes tend to be heavier on the fruit notes and lighter in body. Due to the lower tannin levels and softer finish, some vitners employ a longer oak-aging process to give the wine more structure.
Our California Merlot is a full-bodied red with big fruit flavors with hints of rich baking spices and purple floral notes. On the higher end in regards to alcohol content at 14%, this wine has a dry chocolate finish with a moderate oak character.
The Signature Series™ Merlot is one of the most satisfying kits to make thanks to the inclusion of grape skins. You’ll mirror the professional vintner process of “punching the cap”, which makes your winemaking adventure even more hands on. VineCo’s jammy skin packs are much more expressive than dried grape skins, imparting more character from the grapes and boosting tannin structure in the finished wine.
High quality American oak cubes are used in the final aging process of the California Merlot kit. One of the reasons oak has always been used to age wine is the slow release of delicious, complex compounds that complement the wines flavor. Oak cubes have more depth of flavor than chips or powder and slowly release compounds like furfural (sweet, caramel like), lignins (vanillin, spice, smoke), and lactones (classic oak flavor). American oak in particular is known to deliver aromatic sweetness, vanillin, and classic oak flavor.
The VineCo Signature Merlot is not to be sequestered to the dinner table. This is a wine you want to pack up and take with you on a picnic. Enjoy with the sun overhead, a light breeze at your back, and a charcuterie board within arm’s reach. At supper time, you may find Merlot to be the perfect compliment to grilled beef burgers or a freshly chopped Caesar salad.