Merlot = Bordeaux, right?

Not necessarily! The classic Bordeaux blend does include Merlot, but you can find Merlot in plenty of other places – the USA, Chile, Australia, Italy, New Zealand.

But Germany? Nah – or so I thought!

According to figures published by the German Wine Institute (drawing on information from the German Federal Statistical Office), in 2017 there were 660 hectares (about 1630 acres) of vineyards growing Merlot. Not a huge area, admittedly, and only about 2% of the total area of black grapes grown in Germany but, bearing in mind that in 1995 there was no Merlot at all, it’s not an insubstantial amount.

So how come Germany is now growing Merlot? I don’t have a definitive answer (who does?) but there are vineyard owners out there who want to test the waters (or should it be ‘wines’), to push the boundaries and see just what can be achieved.

One such is the Bauer Brothers: Alexander and Martin are fifth-generation winemakers who took over from their father, Norbert in 2011. They still make the same delicious wines from the 29 acres of vineyards in the southern Pfalz region, in and around Landau-Nußdorf, as their father, but they wanted to add a twist to show German wines in a new and almost irreverent light exemplified by amazing, if not sometimes controversial, labels.

And with names like ‘My Head says Gym, but my Heart says Sauvignon Blanc’, and ‘Sex, Drugs and Rock’n’roll – Just Riesling for me, thanks’, I think they’ve achieved it.

When asked how they came up with the idea for such crazy names, the brothers replied: “The first one was indeed born late in the evening out of drunkenness. But we wouldn’t call it crazy, as every label tells a piece of our life, how we are, how we think ….” So, idiosyncratic, yes, but underpinned by good old-fashioned know-how. The Bauer brothers personify the harmony between modernity and tradition.

You can gather from all of this that they do indeed produce a Merlot which we’ve chosen as our Wine of the Month. And it, too, has an equally unusual name – ‘My Merlot is not the Answer. It just makes you forget the Question’.

So, what was the question? Oh yes, ‘Merlot = Bordeaux, right?’ Having tasted the Bauer Brothers’ offering, it’s Merlot = Pfalz, right!’.

Their Merlot is an unexpected delight: it’s soft and silky, with a deep ruby red colour, and all the expected flavours of red fruit – plum and raspberry – but with the addition of blackberry and a hint of blueberry. There’s also a leafy undercurrent which adds an extra dimension. Expect plenty of body, with well-balanced tannins, and with 14% abv, you may well forget the question again!

Try this delicious Merlot with steak, confit of duck, coq au vin or mature cheese.

This wine and all the others produced by the Bauer Brothers are certified ‘Fair’n Green. (Fair’n Green is the system for sustainable viticulture which helps winegrowers to develop towards holistic sustainability. Based on 150 criteria, a comprehensive consultation, and annual binding improvement goals, wineries are supported in producing sustainable wine.)

By Maureen Little