Meet Merlot

Soft and rounded, fruit with a sweet aroma and an attractive texture - a highly versatile wine.

Grapes 311 (photo credit: OFER ZEMACH)
Grapes 311
(photo credit: OFER ZEMACH)
Merlot is a grape varietal that is easy to grow, easy to pronounce and easy to like. It ripens early and produces a very versatile wine that can be blended with other varieties or made into a wine called Merlot. Its more famous cousin, Cabernet Sauvignon, is the more masculine variety, tannic and with good structure, whilst Merlot is more feminine.
Merlot Wine
Merlot Wine
Merlot makes wines that are soft, rounded, fruity with a sweet aroma of plums, black cherries and red berries. It also produces wine with an attractive texture, soft, supple, plush, even velvety.
It originates in France and is one of the primary grapes of Bordeaux. It reaches the heights of greatness in the wines of Pomerol and St. Emilion. Château Petrus, one of the most expensive wines in the world, is made primarily from Merlot and may last 40 years if cellared correctly. However ,it is perhaps better known as the permanent partner to Cabernet Sauvignon in the great blends of the most famous Medoc wineries.
However, Merlot also grows everywhere and may be found in all wine producing countries. It is sometimes on its own, but more often than not has a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend to provide body and tannin. It is at its best in Chile, where the wines are juicy, fruity and excellent value. Also it succeeds well in New Zealand, where it ripens before the Cabernet in the cooler climate.
Merlot was first planted in Israel in the 1980s and the first very first varietal Merlot was produced by the Golan Heights Winery in 1986. During the 1990s, it was very heavily planted, particularly in Galilee and the Golan. It is used in a variety of wines from easy gluggers to expensive ageworthy blends. Wines named Merlot have a minimum 85% Merlot in the blend, and some of the best are listed below.
ENTRY LEVEL – up to NIS 35
Entry level wines are for beginners, for those looking for more inexpensive options or for those who simply seek a lighter, fruitier, easier drinking style.
Selected Merlot 2009 is the perfect Merlot for the thirsty. A wine to drink, not just to taste. Soft and fruity with mouth-filling flavor. Serve it slightly chilled. Selected is Israel’s largest selling brand.
Classic Merlot 2009 – Fruity and easy drinking wine. A good beginners wine for those sampling Merlot for the first time.
Serve it chilled.
BEST BUY – NIS 35 - 59
These are wines which represent the best value for money.
Galil Mountain Merlot 2008 – A lean, tight, well-balanced wine with fruit to the fore. Galil Mountain is situated at Kibbutz Yiron in Upper Galilee.
Private Collection Merlot 2008 – Wild berry and cherry fruit with oak flavors very much in supporting role. A veteran brand, with a new label design and notable recent improvements in quality.
Barkan Reserve Merlot 2006 – A Merlot whose sweet vanilla nose from oak aging dominates, but the red blackberry and blackcurrant fruit break through.
BEST QPR – NIS 60 - 99
These wines represent the best qualityto- price ratio.
Carmel Appellation Merlot 2006 – This is a wine from Upper Galilee vineyards, which is full of chunky plum and berry fruit, with bags of earthy character. It may be recognized by the camel on the label.
Saslove Aviv Merlot 2008 – Aromatic, and rich in spicy oak flavors, this chewy Merlot is produced by the father-and-daughter partnership of Barry and Roni Saslove.
Dalton Merlot 2008 – Medium bodied, cherry fruit and gentle oak combine to make a thoroughly good wine. This is a fast improving winery, under the skillful hands of winemaker Na’ama Mualem.
The special purchase may be for a collector’s private cellar, a valued gift or a special occasion, Margalit Merlot 2007 – Far more elegant and Old World in style than the Margalit wines of old. The wine shows great depth and complexity. It is velvety, yet earthy with great tannins, blackberry and a long finish.
Merlot Wine
Merlot Wine
Clos de Gat Sycra Merlot 2006 – Uncharacteristically full bodied for a Merlot, with high alcohol and 20 months oak aging. In other words, it is a monster, but in its own way unique. It is an estate wine from one of Israel’s best boutique wineries in the Judean Hills.
Yarden Merlot 2005 – A Merlot that is normally quite oaky and full bodied, that almost wants to be a Cabernet Sauvignon. However, this is an older vintage and the wine has had time to soften. It shows an aroma of plums and red fruit on the nose with an oaky backdrop.
Adam Montefiore works for Carmel Winery. He regularly writes about wine in both Israel and international publications.