Merlot is a staple of the wine producing regions of South America. Alongside Cabernet Sauvignon and Carménère, the bold, spicy grape contributes to Chile’s reputation for creating great, affordable wine.
Chilean Merlot tends to be full-bodied yet gentle, relatively low in alcohol yet with a bracing acidity, and it often has a divisive “green” characteristic to it.
This iconic Bordeaux grape was first brought to South America in the 19th century, yet only really came into its own during a massive surge in the consumption of Chilean and Argentinian wine in the 90s.
In 1994 it was discovered that much of what was thought to be Merlot was actually Carménère, an almost identical grape native to France that growers more or less turned their back on due to its relatively low yields.
The best Merlot in Chile grows in the Apalta region in the Colchagua province. The grape thrives in many countries around the world, and enjoys a subtle yet compelling variance from climate to climate.
Chilean Merlot can stand up to strong flavors fairly well, so pair with a big red-sauce Italian meal, some meatballs, a bit of roasted turkey or even a good pizza.