One of the most well known international red grape varieties, ever fluctuating in popularity, Merlot is not to be underestimated.
It’s characterised by red fruits such as ripe plums, gentle spices, soft tannins and rounded, plush texture, expressing notes of mocha or chocolate with oak influence. The best examples have great ageing potential.
Merlot can produce noteworthy varietal wines and is a great blending partner. It’s a key variety in Bordeaux blends, working well with varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, but it’s soft, approachable character adds to blends with varieties far beyond the classics.
Finding its home in Bordeaux where it best grows on the Right Bank, Merlot has the capability of delivering wines with lovely expressions from around the world.
Scroll down to explore 15 top-scoring Merlots from DWWA 2023
Outside of France, it is famously grown in Italy, California and Chile where it can produce fruity, easy-drinking expressions, but when grown in higher altitudes or with attentive vine management, for example, more structured examples are to be found.
Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA) 2023 saw a number of top-scoring Merlot-based wines awarded, including a Best in Show (97 points) from Pomerol, Bordeaux for Château Fayat 2020. The judges described the wine as both classic and contemporary with soft tannins and fruit concentration. Blended with just 10% Cabernet Franc, it’s an outstanding example of the quality wines Merlot can produce.
Another 97 points was awarded to Château Malescasse 2020 from Bordeaux’s Haut-Médoc, awarded a Platinum medal for its alluring sweet cassis aromas, poised tannins and lingering finish.
Beyond France, top quality expressions of Merlot were rated by the experts from Italy and New Zealand, to less discovered wine regions such as Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia – Spain and Switzerland too.
Matijaševi? Vinogradi, Tri Doline, Oplenac, Šumadija-Great Morava 2020 from Serbia, and produced with 100% Merlot, was described as ‘a stunning wine’ but the judges, with captivating aromas of oak and a long, lingering finish. From Slovenia, Zuljan, Merlot, Goriška Brda, Primorska 2018 received 95 points for its impeccably smooth taste, gentle tannins and well-balanced finish.
International Merlot Day is celebrated annually on 7th November. To celebrate, we highlight 15 top scoring Merlot and Merlot-dominant wines that are worth exploring. Search all winners from DWWA 2023 at awards.decanter.com
International Merlot Day: 15 award-winning wines to try
Provi?, Pagan Reserva, Srednja i Južna Dalmacija, Coastal 2018
Gold, 95 points
Aromas of violets, jasmine and black and pink peppercorns. The palate is multilayered and structured; racy acidity make this something that would be great with grilled meats. Beautiful drinking! Alcohol 15%
Château Fayat, Pomerol, Bordeaux 2020
Best in Show, 97 points
Pomerol is such a sought-after appellation that it always seems a particular treat to judge its wines in our competition. Origin alone, of course, doesn’t guarantee success – but when our judges tasted this particular Pomerol, from one of the best balanced of recent Bordeaux vintages, it was obvious that the wine’s achievement met the hopes which cluster around the appellation name. It’s dark black-red in colour, with subdued but compelling scents of warm earth and dark black fruits (blackcurrant, blackberry and damson); a year in oak leaves the subtlest of traces on a wine of this quality. On the palate it is vital, athletic, clearly harvested without any over-ripeness; the tannins are soft and tender; but the wine’s inner concentration and force, together with an acidity which almost seems mineral or iron-like in some way, will give it plenty of cellar legs. A Pomerol which is both classic and contemporary. Alc 14.5%
Château Malescasse, Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux 2020
Platinum, 97 points
Alluring sweet cassis, plum and blackcurrant aromas…
Source : https://www.decanter.com/decanter-world-wine-awards/international-merlot-day-15-award-winning-wines-to-try-515981/