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Merlot in The South of France

A hugely popular grape variety in the southwest of France, especially in Bordeaux where it rose to achieve remarkable stardom, Merlot can be made as a single varietal wine, or blended as a major component with Cabernet sauvignon, Cabernet franc, Malbec and a few others. What most people didn't realise is that this large berry variety is also widely planted in various viticulture areas in France, and all over the world.

As a single varietal wine, most of the new world-ish Merlots are usually lush, ripe and velvety with a plethora of blue/ dark fruits, and almost always accompanied by various oak tones imparted by small barriques, at least for the wineries that can afford it. The more "classic" examples however, prefer to preserve as much acidity as reasonably possible to produce slightly lighter bodied, lower alcohol wines that aim to strike an equilibrium between ripe red fruits and herbaceous flavours, with or without the use of new oak.

Hand Harvesting Merlot Bunches for "Chapeau Melon" at La Vrille et Le Papillon

In the sleepy mountain town of Valvignières, Méryl Croizier vinifies a 100% Merlot that is more closely related to the "classic" style albeit with zero intervention, no sulphur and chemical use. We revisited a 2017 version of his "Chapeau Melon" yesterday and were very pleased that the wine has mellowed somewhat (from its initial release) though the deep purplish red hues are still very much present!

Aromas of ripe red plums, dried cranberries, macerated cherries and a touch of clove were quite prominent once its initial wild, funky tones retreated into the shadows. Damson plums, pluots, red currants and mocha flavours on the palate with a tannic grip, balanced by a nice level of acidity and interestingly, some surprising elements of Chinese medicinal and earthy tones emerged after a couple of hours. This worked wonderfully with some mild Sichuan style braised eggplant with minced meat (鱼香茄子) and pan fried dumplings with pork (猪肉锅贴) but we thought some baked lamb ribs and roast duck will be mighty fine too!

To celebrate the pre-arrival of Méryl's latest wines, you can grab this Chapeau Melon 2017 at a mere S$35/ 750ml (U.P. $50), limited to 3 per customer, if you purchase any 6 bottles in our latest pre-arrival selection. Simply enter MERLOT and the number of bottles desired in the promo code section when you fill out the form. For those who have already placed an order with us, just text MT!


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