Wine Lists

Wines for International Merlot Day

By Halliday Promotion

26 Oct, 2022

Pour a glass of merlot on Monday November 7 to celebrate International Merlot Day.

Merlot was first planted in Australia in the 1960s. While it has a shorter history here than grapes like shiraz and cabernet sauvignon, as you'll see from the expressions below, its future is bright. With flavours of berry, plum and dark cherry, merlot pairs with pizza, duck, pork, braised meats and pasta dishes.

These five examples come by way of Victoria's Yarra Valley, and the Eden Valley, Wrattonbully, McLaren Vale, and Langhorne Creek in South Australia. Get to know how place influences this popular red grape, and exactly how you should be drinking it this International Merlot Day.

2020 Irvine Estate Eden Valley Merlot

2020 Irvine Estate Eden Valley Merlot 

Vibrant medium red in colour. Raspberry, cocoa and a dash of Turkish delight on the nose, with lavender and menthol in the background. The palate has sweet red currants, raspberries, and a sour morello cherry backbone. Layers of coffee and dark chocolate build a chewy and textural palate. A sophisticated, cool-climate merlot with red fruit sweetness, gentle mid-palate acidity and fine tannins. Drinking well now and will develop with age.

Winemaker Lachlan Duncan says: Wine made from merlot can be fleshy, succulent and ready to be drink soon after vinification. It can also be austere, structured and ready to age for 20 or more years. The flavours merlot offer are diverse in nature: plums, blackcurrants, cherries, mint, spice, tobacco and more. 

H. How does the Eden Valley influence your merlot? 
LD. The Eden Valley wine region is situated within the highlands that border the eastern side of the Barossa Valley. Our vineyards are nestled in the rocky hills, at around 450 metres above sea level. This altitude means we are cooler in climate, higher in rainfall and have rockier, more mineral rich soils than the valley floor. The cool climate allows our merlot to ripen at a slower rate, which results in complex flavour development. The soil itself is a sandy loam that is studded with quartz, schist and ironstone. These minerals add to the unique flavour and tannin profile to our merlot grapes.

Serving suggestion: Pizza and pasta dishes are a perfect match. Try the 2020 a delicate beef fillet dish, roast chicken or even duck. To keep things simple, choose a matured, soft white cheese and share with a friend.

RRP $35 | Drink to 2028 |

2015 Merite Wines Merlot

2015 MÉRITE Merlot

Layers of aromatics that will benefit from gentle decanting. Flavour profiles capture fruit harvested at perfect ripeness, rather than the jammy flavour profiles previously expected of Australian merlot. High-quality natural tannins, structure and balance that will reward cellaring.

Winemakers Colleen Miller and Michael Kloak say: While almost all Australian merlot in the bottle is made from the same clone, Mike and I also planted newly introduced clones from France, which create high quality tannins, perfectly ripe fruit flavours that are less jammy and have greater complexity and vibrancy. It’s what we call modern Australian merlot.

H. How does Wrattonbully influence your merlot?
CM & MK. Wrattonbully and Coonawarra benefit from the widest diurnal temperature swings in the ripening period in South Australia. Swathes of the famous Terra Rossa over Limestone soils help create high-quality wine grapes from the classic red varieties. Wrattonbully’s soils are disrupted, and so vineyards have more altitude and varied aspect, with caves scattered throughout the region. Coonwarra is very flat with vineyards next to each other. These factors held so much promise that there has been recent investment in the region utilising newer clones of these varieties. Now that the vineyards are mature, the merlot and cabernet sauvignon grapes from these regions are sought after by red winemakers.

Serving suggestion: The 2018 vintage benefits from decanting before serving to allow the layers of flavours to be released and the aromatics to flourish.

RRP $60 | Drink to 2040 |

2021 Serafino Merlot

2021 Serafino Merlot

Plum red with purple hues, aromas of black plums, cedar, chocolate and spice. The palate is rich and velvety, showing mulberry spice, blackberry and plum flavours. It has a fine supple finish with fruit and oak in perfect harmony.

Winemaker Charles Whish says: Merlot is known for its soft texture, lower acidity and approachable style. It's made from red-skinned grapes that adapt to a variety of climates to produce food-friendly wines at many price points. Merlot can also be used as a blending grape – we think there's something for everyone. The winemaking technique includes the use of older oak to retain fruit and open ferment to allow to riper characters to come through. We only produce small batch each vintage.

H. How does McLaren Vale influence your merlot?
CW. McLaren Vale is a warmer region, and allows us to pick the merlot grapes earlier for varietal character and natural acidity. The merlot is more approachable and the alcohol can be kept low, making it a light and enjoyable wine.

Serving suggestion: Enjoy with rack of lamb or hard cheese. Decanting the wine is optional but always nice to give the wine air.

RRP $28 | Drink to 2026 |

2018 TarraWarra K Block Merlot

2018 TarraWarra K Block Merlot

Spices, dark berries and herb aromas lead to a rich and satisfying palate with fruit concentration, grip and structure. Our K Block Merlot has broken the mould of Australian merlot. The combination of site, clone and planting density give low yields to produce a wine of depth and substance.

Winemaker Adam McCallum says: The merlot is a very approachable, soft and gently tannic wine, which is very appealing in its youth. I really enjoy the fleshy mid-palate with a cashmere-like texture.

H. What is unique about your merlot? 
AM. The 2018 vintage was a warmer season, and the merlot really thrived in the conditions, producing a robust wine full of flavour.

Suggested food pairing: The TarraWarra Merlot is a great match with lamb or venison.

RRP $35 | Drink now |

 2021 Watkins Wavemaker Merlot

2021 Watkins Wavemaker Merlot

Violets and star anise both primary on the nose. Plums and blackberry first, followed by chocolate and cigar box secondary on the palate.

Winemaker Sam Watkins says: The reason I'm particularly fond of merlot is the rich core of fruit flavour displayed alongside structure and backbone – this balance in the glass is unique to merlot. I also think the saying “merlot puts flesh on cabernet’s bones" rings true. 

H. How does Langhorne Creek influence your merlot?
SW. I affectionately refer to merlot as the chameleon of wine because it easily reflects the regionality of where it’s grown. We're lucky to source our merlot grapes from estate-grown vineyards in Langhorne Creek so we have control over the wine from vine to bottle. We make sure to take advantage of the even ripening seasons and cool nights, which result in Langhorne Creek merlot showing varietal characters of violets and plums while maintaining the acidity and balance. 

Serving suggestion: Decanting is recommended, and serve in a Bordeaux-style red wine glass. When it comes to food pairings, any dish with spices like coriander and cumin will pair well. A favourite pairing is the 2021 served alongside a caramelised roast vegetable tart.

RRP $26 | Drink to 2027 |