Cabernet sauvignon and merlot share the same father—cabernet franc. Cabernet sauvignon’s mother was sauvignon blanc. Who was merlot’s?

A. Magdeleine noire des Charentes

B. Petit Manseng

C. Chardonnay

D. Côt (aka Malbec)


Merlot’s mother was magdeleine noire des Charentes. Grape geneticists determined that merlot was the offspring of cabernet franc in the early 1990s, but merlot’s other parent remained a mystery for a decade. We can thank French ampelographer Jean-Michel Boursiquot for finding merlot’s unnamed mother in an abandoned vineyard in Brittany, France. A few years later, more vines were found in the Charentes region of southwestern France, and Boursiquot named the vines magdeleine noire des Charentes.

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