Region: Italy – Tuscany.
Grape Variety: 100% Merlot
Tasting Notes: Full. Layered. Velvety. Juicy. Elegant. Long.
A very popular red grape variety found in the great wines of St. Emilion and Pomerol. It is the most planted variety in Bordeaux, and it has also become an extremely fashionable red in many regions including California. Although it has a reputation to be smooth, and easy to drink when young, Merlot is also capable of producing extremely intense wines as well. It is often used as a blending agent with Cabernet Sauvignon.
Once named Enotria for its abundant vineyards, Italy (thanks to the ancient Greeks and Romans) has had an enormous impact on the wine world. From the shores of Italy, the Romans brought grapes and their winemaking techniques to North Africa, Spain and Portugal, Germany, France, the Danube Valley, the Middle East and even England. Modern Italy, which didn’t actually exist as a country until the 1870s, once produced mainly simple, everyday wine. It wasn’t until the 1970s that Italy began the change toward quality. The 1980s showed incredible efforts and a lot of experimentation. The 1990s marked the real jump in consistent quality, including excellence in many Region that had been indistinct for ages. The entire Italian peninsula is seeing a winemaking revolution and is now one of the most exciting wine Region in the world.
Tuscany lies in central Italy and stretches along the country’s western coast. The region is one of Italy’s most prominent wine-growing areas and accounts for roughly 5% of all wine made by volume. However, in terms of value, Tuscany lays claim to about 10% of all Italian wine.
In the western portions of Tuscany, along the Ligurian Sea, much of the terrain is flat, while hills and valleys are more prominent in the south. Higher altitude vineyards grow more centrally and inland. In those spots, the elevation of the Apennine Mountains helps alleviate the region’s warm temperatures and moderates the acidity levels as the grapes ripen. The region is famous for Sangiovese, a late-ripening grape that’s dominant in DOC or DOCG blends. It also ages incredibly well, particularly in versions that have spent an extended amount of time in oak. Generally, Sangiovese is a medium to full-bodied wine with high tannin levels and high acidity. It boasts red berry flavors with black pepper spice and herbaceous qualities. Aged versions impart more rustic qualities, like earth, roasted vegetables, cedar, and game.