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Merlot - Pinot Gris - Cave Jean Rene Germanier - Single Vineyard

Merlot - Pinot Gris - Cave Jean Rene Germanier - Single Vineyard

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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From 1896 onwards when he harvested his first vintage at Balavaud, Urbain Germanier devoted his life to his vineyards. Later, the torch passed to his three sons, Francis, Paul and Charles whose wines claimed their place among the premiers crus, the best growths of the Valais.

Around 1940 Francis Germanier decided to introduce a table pear variety to the plains of the Rhône valley called Williams, or Williams Bon Chrétien after the English nurseryman who discovered it. In 1945 a severe storm threw the entire harvest to the ground. Faced with this disaster Francis decided to distill the fruit. The resultant eau-de-vie proved extraordinarily aromatic and harmonious. The Bon Père William was born and rapidly established itself as one of the typical specialities of the canton, inseparable from the legendary spectacle of the pear in the bottle. The production of spirits became for many years the most important activity of the family domaine until winemaking returned to predominance in the course of the 1980s.

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