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Black grape variety grown in Apulia

Merlot n.

Grape variety of important national and international, very present also in Apulia, is suitable for cultivation throughout the region. 

Origin and Historical Outline

The Merlot vine n. comes, with various other vines (Cabernet), from the wine-growing region of South-West France (Bordeaux). From France it has spread to all areas of the world. In the  Italian peninsula it spread in 1880 starting from Friuli and Veneto, where it found suitable environmental conditions. Nowadays it is diffused in all the regions, especially the central-southern ones and also in Apulia. The name would come from the blackbird.


Synonyms

Bigney, Merlau, Merlò, Plant Medoc, Vitraille. 


Shoot tip: expanded, fluffy, whitish, with carmine edges.

Leaf: medium, pentagonal or wedge-shaped, pentalobate, with slightly bullate blade. U-shaped petiole sinus, sometimes with overlapping lobes; deep, U-shaped upper lateral sinuses with overlapping lobes; U-shaped lower lateral sinuses. Medium density of prostrate hairs between the lower veins.

Bunch: medium or medium-small, pyramidshaped, winged (1 or 2 wings), more or less loose, with woody peduncle up to the first bifurcation, pink.

Berry: medium-small, round, blue-black with purplish shades; pruinose, medium compact skin.

Time of bud burst: intermediate-early

Flowering time: early-intermediate

Veraison: intermediate-early

Ripening: intermediate

Vigour: medium-high

Average bunch weight: 190 g (min 130 g – max 300 g)

Average berry weight: 2.1 g (min 1.9 g – max 2.3 g)

Number of seeds per berry: 2 4

Average rachis weight: 16 g

Fertility of buds: 2 – 1

Potential fertility: 1.5

Actual fertility: 1.1

Abundant and consistent production. The most suitable soils are fresh and hilly, well-aired ones, with training methods ensuring partial shade on the grapes (this avoids sudden drops in fixed acidity). Long pruning may produce blind buds.

Alcoholic content: 12.5 – 14.5 % by vol.

pH: 3.25 – 3.60

Total acidity: 5 – 8 g/l

The Merlot n. vine is used exclusively for vinification. Due to the characteristics of its grape, it is also successfully used in Apulia as a complementary grape variety in blends, frequently with Cabernet Sauvignon or many other red varieties. Hence the vine’s wide international distribution. It is included in the composition of many PDO wines.

If vinified as a single variety the result is a table wine of good or medium quality, with a more or less intense ruby red colour that changes to garnet with age, with a fruity, herbaceous and vinous aroma. The taste is moderately tannic, soft and dry, sufficiently fine, with a bitterish aftertaste if aged. The latter oenological practice is not feasible in the case of products with lower acidity, which should be consumed earlier.

The Merlot n. vine is quite present in Apulia and is registered among the varieties suitable for cultivation in all Apulian production areas. It is cultivated not only in Europe, but also in California, Australia and South America, where it often gives rise to high quality wine.

Antonacci Donato
antonacci.dona@gmail.com

The data sheet of the Merlot n., revised and updated, is extracted from: Antonacci Donato (2006). Viti di Puglia, Adda publisher. Its use is granted by the author citing the source.