Origins and history: – widely-planted throughout Bordeaux but mainly in St Emilion and Pomerol. Hugely popular grape variety worldwide both as a single varietal and as a blending partner with Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc. Experienced a big dip in popularity after the film ‘Sideways’ but has reclaimed any ground lost since then. Hasn’t always been the most successful of black grapes in SA although plantings in cooler climates (Durbanville, Elgin) are looking exciting.
Characteristics: – Fat black fruit flavours of plums and damsons often give way to chocolate, mint and hints of coffee. Much fleshier berry than either of the cabernets and often used in blends to provide fruit and to counteract Cabernet’s stronger tannins. If badly made, can produce the equivalent of alcoholic jam.
Famous Wines: – Le Pin, Chateau Petrus (both Bordeaux, France, +/- 70-90% Merlot)
Good Local Examples: – Hartenberg, Bein Wines, Shannon Mount Bullet
If it was a Person: – George Clooney