Madame Merlot made her stage debut in the Spring of 2019 - ‘En primeur’* in Bordeaux was the dress rehearsal before the launch of the Chateau George 7 one woman show.
Madame Merlot is a dancer personifying the profile of wine I am proud to make – fabulously fruity, rounded (indeed proud of her curves), supple, wearing silk, and with poise as she skilfully keeps her tannins and alcohol beautifully in balance. In the finest expression of Château George 7, which is fermented in 500 litre French oak barrels then matured for 18 months in small ones, Madame Merlot embraces wood from start to finish. The fruit is centre stage and she doesn’t use oak to make up for her weaknesses, but she draws on it to enhance her natural attributes and makes it dance to her rhythm.
Originally the invention of my first wine teacher, the theatrical Helen, to characterise the attributes of this grape variety, the personality of Madame Merlot has since become a feature of my own wine teaching and indeed my imagination, as I nurture my wines.
I first brought her to life as the character of Château George 7 wine in an earlier blog when she tip-toed onto the stage for the first time and waited for public reaction with butterflies and bated breath. She could never have dreamt how the audience would respond and with such enthusiastic applause.
Often on the lips of wine drinkers who are rather quick to dismiss what they believe to be a less sophisticated grape variety than her half siblings, the Cabernets, (Franc and Sauvignon), many Merlot maligners don’t realise that some of the most revered and exclusive wines are 100 % expressions of Merlot - such as Petrus or Le Pin. As these wines prove on the world stage, Madame Merlot may be a wonderful dance partner coupled with Cabernet Sauvignon, but on her own, if she is given the opportunity, she can steal the show.
Madame Merlot at Château George 7
Dancing firmly to her own tune, Madame Merlot at Château George 7 is gaining confidence each year as she perfects her technique and embraces the vagaries of the vintage to weave them into her performance without a stumble. While 2018 was a hot production with seductive concentration and an immediate sell-out, 2019 saw her adopt an elegance and coolness that is equally captivating. She positively sashayed into 2020 with grace as well as depth and an immediate appeal that just keeps on giving. The 2021 climate posed challenges for all performers and so she preferred to reduce the number of appearances to keep up premium quality and to continue to delight her growing following. The previews of 2022 have been astounding and 2023 may still be being choreographed but there is no doubt she will delight again.
At Chateau George 7, Madame Merlot is coming into her prime. She is gaining critical acclaim from wine professionals and respect from her peers as she rises in the ranks - even against those who have been on the dance floor for so much longer. She may not have previous generations to ease her path, but she is carving her own with style and substance.
Madame Merlot in Fronsac (as elsewhere) may often be underestimated, but at Chateau George 7 she has proven that her rightful place is firmly in the spotlight.
*En primeur is when wine critics taste the wines from the most recent harvest (that are just several months into their development) in order to judge their future potential. In Bordeaux, this is April following the previous Autumn’s harvest.
PLUS: Interested in more about Merlot? Jane Anson published a super 10 minute Masterclass Podcast on Merlot in November 2023 on her web-site Janeanson.com