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Sideways snobbery subsides for Merlot

Published:  23 July, 2008

Merlot sales are recovering from the downturn they experienced in the aftermath of Hollywood wine hit Sideways'.

In the film one of the characters - who is a confessed wine snob - decrees his hatred of Merlot but new figures from Blackstone Winery suggest this varietal is undergoing something of a renaissance.

Sales of US Merlot rose by 6% across the board in the 12-month period ending December 7 2007 while Blackstone's benchmark Merlot product saw sales jump by 11.6% in the last month of 2007.

Blackstone Merlot is the single best-selling domestic red wine in the US and the company has a 16% share of the fast-growing, super-premium ($8.00-$10.99 per 750ml bottle) Merlot market.

Gary Sitton, Blackstone winemaker, said: "American wine drinkers may be fickle in the short term but eventually they come home to what tastes good to them, and what has tasted good to them for a long time is Merlot.

"2006 was a winemaker's vintage. It was cool and drawn out, so we had the luxury of allowing the fruit to hang on the vine developing the ripe fruit flavors and tannins we wanted. I believe 2006 is a strong vintage for Merlot; certainly, it is for us here at Blackstone."