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Merlot

Merlot is the principal black variety of the Bordeaux area and is now also recommended in the south of France. In Italy it is now recommended in more provinces than any other single variety although it is far from surpassing Italian varieties such as Bar-bera and Sangiovese in area or production. In California the area of Merlot increased to 4050 ha. It is a minor variety in Chile and Argentina. So far no early introduction into Australia has been traced. Merlot is a vigorous variety although it seems to be one of the most sensitive to salinity. It has medium, 3- to 5-lobed leaves often with a tooth at the base of the lateral sinuses, with scattered tufts of hair on the lower surface and a U-shaped petiolar sinus. Bunches are medium, cylindrical, sometimes winged, and loose with small, round berries. Production is usually good, but under unfavourable conditions at flowering, setting may be very poor. The wine of Merlot has a distinctive character clearly related to that of the Cabernets. It has good colour but it is softer and ages more quickly than Caber-net wines. Although it may not be used alone, it may be blended with the Cabernets in the finest of the wines of controlled appellation of the Bordeaux region.

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