In France, on the right bank of Bordeaux's Dordogne River, are two appellations that helped put merlot on the U.S. map: St. Emilion and Pomerol. When young, these wines are much more approachable than many of Bordeaux's cabernet sauvignon-based wines. The fruit is lush, the tannins are soft, and the body of the wine is full and round. They're pleasant, easy to get along with shortly after bottling, but still serious, often with the potential to age beautifully. The grape behind the region's elegant style is merlot. In the 1980s, American critics discovered what were called the "Right Bank's" wines, and felt they could be just what the American palate had been looking for. Merlot immediately experienced an upswing in popularity throughout California's wine country and never really slowed down.
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