Origin: France, Bordeaux
Parentage: natural crossing of Caberbet Franc and an unknown variety
Vineyard area: 724 ha, 1.6 %. Merlot has been authorized as an Austrian Qualitätswein variety since 1986, and it is grown in all wine-growing regions. The great wines from this variety come from France - the right bank Bordeaux appellations St. Émilion and Pomerol.
Important ampelographic features
Leaf: conical; seven-lobed; petiole is slightly open with U-shaped base
Grape cluster: elongated, with loose to somewhat compact berries; conical, with wings; grapes are small and blueish-black in colour
Ripening time: mid to late season
Significance, conditions: Merlot wines are smoother than Cabernet Sauvignon wines because the Merlot gives less tannin and acidity. This variety is often used as a cuvée partner or is vinified as a single variety wine. It needs good soils, and is sensitive to late frost as well as to coulure when the weather is cool during the flowering phase. Its yields are inconsistent, and it requires yield regulation.
Wine: Only with high ripeness and a long maturation period do the wines present generous fruit, soft extract sweetness and round, harmonious tannins. Highly ripe wines have really good ageing potential. If the grapes are not fully ripe, then there is a possibility of the wines having a grassy green character.