Lush, velvety Merlot is the grape behind some of the world’s most sensuous red wines. An adaptable variety, Merlot has travelled far from its native south-west France and today is widely planted from South America to Australasia, the US and Italy. However, Merlot performs best on damp clay soils and in relatively cool climates, where at low yields and optimum ripeness its subtle violet perfume, succulent summer berry flavours and ripe, plummy textures can reach their full potential. One of the principal grapes of French Bordeaux, Merlot is outstanding on the moist, clay-rich soils of St-Emilion and Pomerol, whose decadent Château Pétrus is one of the world’s rarest, most highly-traded wines. Merlot brings mid-palate richness to more tannic grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, with which it is traditionally blended in red Bordeaux, a style much replicated around the world.