Merlot is one of the world's great red grape varietals. It produces one of the world's most celebrated wines in Pomerol's Château Petrus, and plays the role as an important foil to the more sturdy, tannic Cabernet Sauvignon in most Bordeaux reds. Merlot tends to make more luscious, seductively fruited wines than Cabernet, which can lead people to overlook its more serious side. Its home is Bordeaux, especially in the 'right-bank' regions of Pomerol and Saint-Emilion where it is the major grape.
It is grown widely around the world, and has done particularly well in Italy and California. This productive vine buds and ripens early, and because it is a think skinned variety it is at risk of rot in wet years. The large, loose-bunched grapes are high in sugar but tend to be low in tannins and acidity, especially in warmer climates.
The wines are supple, forward, fruity and lush; they can be aromatic and are capable of great richness. They tend to be softer than Cabernet Sauvignon wines, and mature faster.