Next-Gen Merlot From Where It All Started #MerlotMe

      24 Comments on Next-Gen Merlot From Where It All Started #MerlotMe

Merlot is widely planted across the globe holding the number two spot of most planted grapes. The resulting wine spans from juicy, fruity and jammy to deep, nuanced and complex producing some of the world’s most expensive bottles. And did you know it all started here in Bordeaux?!?

In fact a document from 1783-4 indicated the name could come from the dark color of the grapes or black birds that munched on them- the Occitan* word for black bird is merlau. What we do confidently know is it originates from the larger Gironde area and southwestern France, and makes an enjoyable, smooth-sipping wine.

This month I’m joining the Wine Pairing Weekend group for their 6th annual celebration of 100% Merlot wines under the hashtag #MerlotMe   Jeff at foodwineclick is our host and shares information about this and past years’ events here. We chat up Merlot and our articles (scroll below) on Twitter today, October 10th at 11am ET and 17:00 CET here in France. Note October is International Merlot Month so go ahead and #MerlotMe!

Say Bordeaux, Say Let’s Go!

Merlot grows everywhere in and around Bordeaux with pockets on the right bank of the rivers and Gironde estuary in Saint-Emilion, and in the Côtes where it dominates red blends.

bordeaux vineyard

Happy Merlot vine at Charivari Wines in Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux.

Among all the producers of wine in Bordeaux- around 6,000 wineries, many negociants, and others who buy grapes and make wine, there’s a lot happening now including ‘next-gen’ or next generation winemakers. These are young, forward-thinking, inspirational people, some of whom are aiming to upend traditional methods. Others hold traditions close while exploring new possibilities. This new generation, most often the children of winery owners, is taking existing wineries into the future and/or starting their own.

Let’s jump right in and meet one of them based in the Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux appellation.

Disclosure: This wine was received as a sample. No compensation received, all thoughts are my own.

Making Noise in Cadillac

Chateau Carsin Charivari Wines Bordeaux

Nea in the middle of harvest just last week is all smiles.


Upstream on the Garonne 30 minutes from the city of Bordeaux is Nea Berglund and her brand Charivari Wines. Nea’s father, Juha Berglund, built a successful wine business in the hills near the charming town of Cadillac. She first participated in harvest at Chateau Carsin as a teen with a crew who came from Finland. Carsin is the only Finnish-owed and operated winery in Bordeaux. This harvest tradition continues today where Nea just finished her 15th harvest.


When Nea stepped in to run the business and assume the winemaker role, she also wanted to start her own brand. Most Bordeaux wines are blends, whether red or white. Nea wanted to make single varietal wines from local grapes. She also wanted them to be organic.

The good thing was Carson practiced organic agriculture since 2003. Nea looked bigger picture and started the certification process, which will be in hand by the end of 2021.

Charivari organic wines bordeaux

Philibert is the property pony who keeps Bruno, her plow horse company. Here he happily munches grass in their organic vineyards.

And how about those single varietal wines? Nea is making noise with her Charivari brand!

The Name Charivari means loud and celebratory noise, a raucous, energetic serenade.

“Charivari is all about having fun, cherishing happy moments, enjoying life with good company, great wines and delicious food. Wine does not have to be so serious! It can also be enjoyable, refreshing, surprising and fun!” Nea Berglund

Her brand definitely fits this name. The wines make you smile big from lightly effervescent pet-nat to rich and rewarding amphorae wines. They also conflict with the Bordeaux norm. By this I mean they aren’t typical blends but one grape and one wine- single variety. She makes four and one is Merlot!


2018 L’Aventure Nocturne with Homemade Smoked Salmon Pizza

Charivari Wines L'Aventure Nocturne 2018 organic wineThis medium-bodied, 100% Merlot pours purple-ruby with medium intensity aromas of black cherry, black berry, mild campfire, dried thyme and white pepper. The fruit follows to the palate which has an appealing forest fresh earthiness and mild cedar and spice notes. These are backed-up by medium silky tannins, lively acidity and a balanced structure. Final thoughts- an excellent quality wine that drinks beautifully today, especially if decanted. It will really show its magic in another two to three years.

We recently visited Nea and paired this latest vintage with home made pizza on the grill. The smoked salmon and peppery rocket (arugula), along with the lightly charred pizza crust and olive oil made the fruit and freshness of the wine shine. 13.5% ABV, 22€ SRP

The Wine Pairing Weekend Group talks Merlot in the following #MerlotMe articles. Be sure to take a look!

Information and Sources:

Thanks for joining me and the #WinePW #MerlotMe event, cheers!

24 thoughts on “Next-Gen Merlot From Where It All Started #MerlotMe

  1. Andrea

    It sounds like Nea is doing some really cool things at her winery! Do you know, is she getting any push back or grumbling from the more traditional producers?

    1. Lynn Post author

      No push back what so ever. In fact there’s a lot going on in Bordeaux, things are bubbling under the surface in areas. You’ll always have the naysayers but change is inevitable.

  2. Deanna

    A grilled smoked salmon pizza with peppery arugula and olive oil sounds just so idyllic for an outdoor picnic lunch at the winery. Adding that to my wine pairing list of ideas for Merlot. How envious to find an organic one too and be able to drink with the winemaker!

    1. Lynn Post author

      Now that I’ve talked up this pairing, hope you like it Deanna! L’Aventure Nocturne with it is a winner.

  3. Allison Wallace

    We are so envious that you are in the heart of one of the greatest wine regions in the world…and the original home to Merlot. No movies is going to sway us, we love Merlot and love the story behind Nea and Charivari!

  4. Payal

    As always, a delightful blog post with so much info and lovely photos! It’s a pleasure to read about your wine explorations around FR.

  5. Lauren

    So much to enjoy in this post: delicious pizza, interesting family history, and background on Merlot. But my favorites were Philibert and Bruno! You made me feel like I was right there, such a wonderful thing these days, so thank you.

    1. Lynn Post author

      I’m glad I could transport you there Lauren! Chateau Carsin/Charivari Wines is a progressive yet down-to-earth friendly place that should definitely be on any Bordeaux winery visit list. It is hard to resist Philibert and Bruno- they’ll come running when they see visitors ;-D

    1. Lynn Post author

      Well I never had until I moved to Bordeaux! Smoked salmon here is like yogurt there- a huge number of brands to choose from.

  6. Jane

    Always fun to get first hand information on the wine scene in and around Bordeaux. Interesting that she is making 100% varietal wines…in Bordeaux! Any chance to find the wines state side?

    1. Lynn Post author

      Nea is working on getting her wines into the US but not quite yet. I’m really surprised one of the smaller importers hasn’t snatched her up. I’ll let you know when I hear. Thanks Jane!

  7. Linda Whipple, CSW

    Hooray for next-gen winemakers challenging norms. I love to see this among young people as they will face some serious challenges in the future. The wine and pizza pairing sounds lovely – glad to hear the smoked salmon worked out. And without cheese, right?

  8. Lori

    awww! I just want to hug Philibert! and I love the meaning behind Charivari Souonds like place I’d like to visit! (and taste their wines!)

    1. Lynn Post author

      It’s a great place that’s kind of turning into a small farm. They make excellent balsamico!

  9. Martin Redmond

    Thanks for the introduction Lynn! I love that you chose a Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux producer. The CdB wines are ones I need to seek out here! I can totally seen Merlot working with your smoked pizza with arugula. I recently (by accident) took a sip of red with a salad that had significant amounts of radicchio in it. While the red wine clashed with the dressing the the other lettuce, it found a happy place with the radicchio.

    1. Lynn Post author

      Now that’s interesting about the radicchio Martin. I wouldn’t think a chicory bitter would work with a red wine.
      A lot of very nice wine in the Côtes. It’s only time before a smaller importer snatches up Nea’s Charivari Wines.Thanks for sharing that tidbit, and for stopping by!


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