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.
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
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.
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
This 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!
- Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares “Merlot: A Varietal That Plays Well with Others”
- Andrea at The Quirky Cork shares Three Turkish Merlots.
- Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla posts Merlot: A Varietal That Plays Well with Others.
- Cindy at Grape Experiences says to Sip Memorable Merlot with Classic Vegetarian Favorites.
- Deanna at Asian Test Kitchen offers a Fall Vegan Menu Paired with 2016 Napa Merlots.
- David at Cooking Chat shares Merlot Food Pairing: Tips and Favorites.
- Gwendolyn at Wine Predator shares Meatloaf and #MerlotMe with Sonoma’s Selby and Columbia Valley’s L’Ecole No. 41.
- Jane at Always Ravenous gives us a Merlot Pairing: Baked Pasta with Sausage Ragù.
- Jeff at Food Wine Click! shares A Tale of Two Merlots at the Grill.
- Jill at L’Occasion asks What’s So Special About Merlot?
- Jennifer at Vino Travels declares Fall is Here! Warm up with a Merlot and Pot Roast Pairing.
- Lauren at The Swirling Dervish posts October is #MerlotMe Month: Here’s What I’ve Been Sipping.
- Linda at My Full Wine Glass is Kicking off #MerlotMe in the Pacific Time Zone.
- Liz at What’s in that Bottle? says Make Room for Merlot!
- Lori at Exploring the Wine Glass has Leaves on the Ground and #MerlotMe in My Glass.
- Lynn at Savor the Harvest gives us Next Gen Merlot From Where It All Started.
- Martin at Enofylz Wine Blog writes A Meatless #MerlotMe Redux.
- Nicole at Somm’s Table has 5 #MerlotMe Nights.
- Payal at Keep the Peas is Kicking Off Autumn With #MerlotMe.
- Pinny at Chinese Wine & Food Pairings celebrates #MerlotMe with Markham and L’Ecole No. 41 Merlots and Army Ramen.
- Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles posts Merlot from Elegant to Badass. Time to #Merlotme.
- Rupal at Syrah Queen writes #MerlotMe – Best Food Pairings For Merlot.
- Susannah at Avvinare says Brazilian Merlot Is Always Welcome At My Table.
- Terri at Our Good Life pairs Merlot Me with No Noodle Lasagne.
- Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm declares Woohoooooooo….It is #MerlotMe Month.
Information and Sources:
- *Occitan is a historical region in southern France, northeastern Spain and northwestern Italy.
- Wine Scholar Guild
- Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes
- American Association of Wine Economists
Thanks for joining me and the #WinePW #MerlotMe event, cheers!