But this harvest, merlot growers and producers have more to worry about than selecting the best grapes. After a boom in the '90s led to a lot more merlot being planted and made, not all of it great, oversupply and faltering demand have cut into prices, leaving some merlot grapes hanging on the vine. ... Despite its reputation, merlot is anything but mundane. The grape is grown in the Bordeaux region of France, where it is often blended with cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc. One French merlot, Petrus, is one of the world's most prized, and pricey, red wines.
And, said Phelps, the '61 Cheval Blanc that Miles so treasures in "Sideways" is a blend of two red wine grapes - cabernet franc and, you guessed it, merlot.