DRINK DIFFERENT - A RARE GRAPE WITHOUT THE RARIFIED PRICE TAG
Once best known as being a grape for blending (mainly with Cabernet Sauvignon), in recent times Merlot has taken more of a starring role, principally due to good value versions from places like Chile. That’s not to say that it was never used on its own – it is perhaps most famous as the grape used in the world’s most exclusive wine, Chateau Petrus.
Unfortunately, it has become something of a victim of its own success: too many examples nowadays can be dull and a little ‘green’. But if you are searching for that Merlot-like flavor without taking out a second mortgage, help is at hand.
A similar grape worth trying is Carmenère. Originally a Bordeaux grape, it fell out of favour in its French heartland, but was rediscovered in Chile as recently as 1991. Combining the accessibility of Merlot with the structure of Cabernet Sauvignon (and without the Petrus-like price tag) it’s a worthy alternative.