Merlot is the most planted varietal in France, and competes only with Cabernet Sauvignon for the position of most popular red wine grape in the world. Merlot is produced in two distinct styles. Late harvested Merlot from warmer climates creates a wine of intense purple color, which shows blackberry and plum fruit, and has soft velvety tannins and a rich full body. Earlier harvested Merlot makes a wine lighter in body and alcohol, but with higher acidity and more of a red fruit character (rasberries, strawberries) and maybe even vegetal, leafy aromas. No matter where it is produced, it is the soft texture and smoothness of Merlot that make it a consistent crowd pleaser.