White Merlot (Pronunciation: [Wahyt mur-LO ]) is a blush wine that has only been around since the late 1990s. It is produced in the same way as traditional Merlot; however, the grape skins are removed from the juice after hours or days, instead of weeks. The fermentation process is the same as the white Zinfandel except it uses the Merlot grape. The skins are left in contact with the juice for only a few hours.
In the '90s, the Fortant Winery, of the French Languedoc region (southwest of the Rhòne region), coined the term "White Merlot" for their blush version of merlot, designed to compete with the White Zinfandel market. This region does not grow the Zinfandel grape and the winery wanted to enter the white Zinfandel market.
The Grape’s Characteristics
- Grapes have loose bunches of large berries that can quickly over-ripen. Birds love these large, thin-skinned grapes.
- The color has lighter blue/black hue with a thinner skin and fewer tannins, a higher sugar content and lower malic acid.
- It thrives in cold ferrous clay.
- The vine tends to bud early which makes it susceptible to frost and its thin skin increases its susceptibility to rot.
- Water stress is important to the vine with it thriving in well drained soil.
- Pruning is a major component to the quality of the wine that is produced.
The aromas and flavors of strawberries and tart cherries abound in this medium-pink rose style wine. It is capped off by a crisp finish that's slightly drier than a typical blush. Enjoy a glass of chilled white Merlot on a warm summer day.