Merlot = Bordeaux, right?
Not necessarily! The classic Bordeaux blend does include Merlot, but you can find Merlot in plenty of other places – USA, Chile, Australia, Italy, New Zealand …. But Germany? Nah – or so I thought!
According to figures published by the German Wine Institute (drawing on information from the German Federal Statistical Office), in 2017 there were 660 hectares (about 1630 acres) of vineyards growing Merlot. Not a huge area, admittedly, and only about 2% of the total area of black grapes grown in Germany but, bearing in mind that in 1995 there was no Merlot at all, it’s not an insubstantial amount.
So how come Germany is now growing Merlot? I don’t have a definitive answer (who does?) but some of it has to be down to climate change. (After all, England and Wales are now producing wine when it was once thought that our climate would be too cold.)
But it’s not only climate change: I think there are vineyard owners out there who want to test the waters (or should it be wines), push the boundaries to see just what can be achieved.
One such is the Bauer Brothers, Alexander and Martin, in the Pfalz region, who are producing some interesting – dare I say off-the-wall – wines with names like ‘My Head says Gym, but my Heart says Sauvignon Blanc’, and ‘Sex, Drugs and Rock’n’Roll – just Riesling for me, thanks’. Somewhat augenzwickernd or tongue-in-cheek we would say.
You can gather from all of this that they do indeed produce a Merlot. And it, too, has an augenzwickernd name – ‘My Merlot is not the Answer. It just makes you forget the Question’.
So, what was the question? Oh yes, ‘Merlot = Bordeaux, right?’ Having tasted the Bauer Brothers’ offering, it’s Merlot = Pfalz, right!’.
This 2016 Merlot is an unexpected delight: it’s soft and silky with the expected flavours of red fruit - plum and raspberry - but there is a leafy undercurrent which adds an extra dimension. There’s plenty of body, and with 14% abv you may well forget the question again!
This wine, and all the other produced by the Bauer Brothers are certified ‘Fair’n Green, (Fair’n Green is the system for sustainable viticulture which helps winegrowers to develop towards holistic sustainability. Based on 150 criteria, a comprehensive consultation and annual binding improvement goals, wineries are supported in producing sustainable wine.)
This wine (and lots of other yummy wines) is available from The Wine Shed, Stydd Gardens, Stoneygate Lane, Ribchester, PR3 3YN