California

Merlot

Study Guides > Varieties > Merlot

Signature Styles & Characteristics

Although any grape can be interpreted in innovative and at times, outlying styles, the following chart represents the preponderance of what you will find in California:

  • Dryness/Residual Sugar

    Still: 30 percent on a scale from Dry to of Dryness/Residual Sugar.

  • Acid (potential)

    Still: 55 percent on a scale from Low to High of Acid (potential).

  • Alcohol (potential)

    Still: 85 percent on a scale from Low to High of Alcohol (potential).

  • Body (weight on palate)

    Still: 100 percent on a scale from Low to High of Body (weight on palate).

  • Texture

    Still: 100 percent on a scale from Gritty and Astringent to Round and Smooth of Texture.

  • Tannin

    Still: 55 percent on a scale from Low to High of Tannin.

Aromas/Flavors

Influenced by climate, terroir, clonal selection and winemaking.

    Age
  • Red Fruit

    Fruit

    Blackberry, mulberry, boysenberry, black currant (cassis), plum, blueberry, black or red cherry
  • Red Floral

    Vegetable

    Bell pepper, black or green olive, fennel, rhubarb, tomato leaf, cola nut
  • Red Floral

    Herbal/floral

    Leaves, eucalyptus, oregano, laurel, mint, thyme, sage, rosemary, pine, green or black tea, sarsaparilla, pipe tobacco or cigar box, violets
  • Red Earth

    Earth

    Dusty earth, humus, mushroom, truffle, graphite (pencil box), cedar, tobacco
  • Red Wood

    Wood (oak)

    Dill weed, nutmeg, coconut, coffee bean, mocha, chocolate, toast, cocoa, molasses, walnut, maple, vanilla, brown sugar, caramel, sawdust or cut wood, smoke
  • Red Other

    Other:

    Leather, musk, tar

Ageability

2 to 10 years on average, pedigree-dependent; the best bottlings can live even longer