Grape Varieties of Argentina
Merlot is another of the red Bordeaux grapes, and in fact is frequently the dominant grape in Bordeaux blends.
These grapes are thin-skinned and juicy, yielding less tannin and lighter acidity than many other red varieties. Merlot grapes also develop a high sugar content which means the grape is capable of contributing higher alcohol content to wines in which it is present.
As a result, Merlot as a varietal is often associated with lighter-bodied, juicy, earlier-drinking, silky-smooth and approachable wines, and is used extensively as a blending grape to bring these characteristics and/or soften the harsher tannic or acidic characteristics of other grape varieties.
Aromas and flavours most commonly ascribed to Merlot range from red berry fruit and herbs in cooler climate wines, through to dark, juicy fruit such as plums and blueberries in warmer conditions. However, it also takes oak very well, reflecting the flavour complexities of the wood as well as taking on a little more tannic structure.
Merlot is similar to Malbec in its climate sensitivities, preferring cooler conditions but being highly susceptible to mildews and rot. But, while it suffers from atmospheric humidity, it also develops its best fruit when there are good levels of soil humidity.
Merlot is an earlier-ripening variety in Argentina, and its harvest usually begins in early March.