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Merlot - Syrah

Merlot - Syrah

Merlot, although often used as a grape for blending (often with Cabernet Sauvignon), is a grape that produces some excellent single variety wine. It can be glorious on its own as seen in some of the wines from Pomerol and St. Emillion and this glory can be found in other expressions of the grape throughout the world.

A few places in Italy grow Merlot for this purpose and there are also excellent Merlots created in Valais and Thermenregion in Switzerland, but in that country it is to Ticino that we turn to find some wonderful single variety Merlot wines.

Ticino is of course right next to Italy and that is the language predominantly spoken there. Here they make Merlot into both red and white wine. Unlike the majority of ‘White Merlot’ this really is a white wine and not a rosé.

There seems no doubt that Merlot originated in France but it has spread throughout the world and can be found in most winemaking countries.

Following much DNA analysis and some archaeological searching worthy of a Dan Brown novel, it has now been established that Merlot is the offspring of Cabernet Franc and Magdeleine Noire des Charentes. It has other well-known siblings – Cabernet Sauvignon, Cot and the grape that was so often confused with Merlot, Carmenère.

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  • Douce Noire Domaine des Abeilles d'Or

    Silk and cashmere in a glass
  • Bianco Rovere Guido Brivio

    An elegantly oaked white Merlot. Guaranteed surprise!

    Out of stock

  • Syrah Réserve Domaine des Muses

    A most impressive Syrah from one of the best
  • Syrah Classique Domaine des Muses

    Fresh and fruity Syrah with typical Muses complexity
  • Clos Combe d'Uvrier Varone

    Serious Swiss Red.
  • Riflessi d'Epoca Guido Brivio

    "made the old way" Ticino Merlot
  • Touché Guido Brivio

    The perfectly balanced Merlot - fruit and body, still at a nice price, just right. "Touché" indeed.
  • Platinum Guido Brivio

    A masterpiece of concentration.
  • Dogaia Guido Brivio

    An extremely clever red blend. For those who like mineral reds but want a full body too
  • Terre Alte Bianco Gialdi

    Back soon. Fruity, fresh, but with surprising texture.
  • Sassi Grossi Gialdi

    One of my favourite Merlots anywhere!
  • Syrah de Sion, Maître de Chais - Réserve & Réserve Spéciale Provins

    A gorgeous Syrah from Provins.
  • Merlot Neuberg Alexs

    Fantastic Merlot from South Austria
  • Merlot d'Yvorne "Lettres de Noblesse" Badoux Vins

    Complex smooth Merlot, a masterpiece

    Out of stock

  • Riedenthal Reserve Weingut Breitenfelder

    Seriously good blend
  • Cuvée XXI Weingut Christ

    Vienna Bordeaux Blend - a bargain!
  • Merlot Saleggi Delea

    Merlot from Losone, Ticino
  • Cabernet Merlot Premium Weingut Christian Fischer

    A magnificent Cabernet Merlot blend from Fischer - grab it while you can.
  • Merlot Premium Weingut Christian Fischer

    Stunningly good Austrian Merlot. Mature

    Out of stock

  • Constellation Giroud Vins

    The first attempt ambitious international blend of Valais Native grapes.
  • Point Cuvée Weingut Nigl

  • Anna Christina Franz / Christine Netzl

    Always amongst the best reds in Austria.
  • Baiocco Guido Brivio

    A crowd pleaser both for Merlot lovers and a surprise to the "I don't like Merlot" crowd.
  • Arzo Gialdi

    From the village of Arzo near Mendrizio comes this classic southern Ticino Merlot.
  • Trentasei Gialdi

    A supremely elegant Merlot. 36 months in barrel and smooth as silk
  • Electus Valais Mundi

    A wine created to raise expectations about Swiss wine to a whole new level.
  • Patronis Stift Klosterneuberg

    Created for the 900th anniversary of the Klosterneuburg Monastery Winery.

    Out of stock

  • Edles Tal Franz / Christine Netzl

    pulls off the elusive combination of power and finesse.
  • Contrada Bianco di Merlot Guido Brivio

    We're out of Terre Alte so you get Contrada at the price of Terre Alte :)
  • Grain Noir Marie-Therese Chappaz

    Cabernet and Merlot in Alpine purity
  • Cayas, Syrah Barrique Cave Jean Rene Germanier

    A concentrated yet fresh Syrah.
  • Terre Vivante - Assemblage Rouge Gregor Kuonen et Fils

    BIG, big red from Gregor Kuonen.
  • L'Humaniste, Gamaret-Syrah Cave de Geneve

    A structured and fruit rich wine with peppery spice.
  • Ruistal Varone

    Bold blend from Valais.
  • Gradenthal Weingut Christian Fischer

    Out of stock

  • Cabernet Sauvignon Margalit

    Cult Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Merlot "Empreinte" Cave de La Cote Uvavins

    Back mid June!

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Another surprisingly interesting area for Syrah has turned out to be south-eastern Austria - in the hand of people like Netzl, Weninger and Gunter Triebaumer. But we haven't been able to secure some in recent years, as they sell it all to Vienna and Berlin.

Syrah is far from the easiest grape to cultivate. It has quite a high susceptibility to botrytis and mites and to an unknown disease which targets Syrah specifically ("I would too!" - Joelle). It also has a very short harvesting time when at full ripeness as it has small berries which tend to shrivel soon after that point. The slower ripening long season of the Swiss Valais is a boon when dealing with Syrah, giving a lot more ease at harvest time.

Syrah should not be confused with Petite Sirah, a synonym for Durif, a cross of Syrah with Peloursin dating from 1880. (We have one from Israel if you are curious)

Syrah produces wines with a wide range of flavour notes, depending on the climate and soils where it is grown, as well as other viticultural practices. Aroma characters can range from violets to berries (usually dark as opposed to red), chocolate, espresso and black pepper. No one aroma can be called "typical". With time in the bottle these "primary" notes are moderated and then supplemented with earthy or savoury "tertiary" notes such as leather and truffle.

There are a number of legends associated with the origins of Syrah, pretty much all of which have been disproven by the arrival of DNA testing. Despite this, they add a touch of romance to the grape. It was suggested that the grape came from the town of Shiraz in Persia (Iran), hence the use of that name in some countries. These legends differ according to whoever is telling the story but suggest the grape arrived in the Rhône in a few different ways - through traders bringing it to Marseilles (no evidence exists of any Syrah having been planted in that area), through a crusader bringing it back from the war (unlikely that he would have travelled as far as Persia from the Holy Land), brought to France by a Persian hermit, or brought to Gaul by Probus, the Roman Emperor.

In truth, it was probably born in the Rhone pre-Alps. Syrah is the natural child of Mondeuse Blanche, from Savoie and Dureza, an old and rare grape originating from Ardèche. It is a great-grandchild of Pinot and a grandchild of Mondeuse Noire as well as being a half-sibling of Viognier.

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