A variety of Gironde (F), Merlot is used for blends in the great wines of Bordeaux. Its name comes from the French word for blackbird, who particularly enjoy its berries. Its parents were discovered through DNA tests: it's a natural cross between Cabernet Franc and Magdeleine Noire des Charentes, an old variety that has recently been threatened with extinction. Merlot is a half-sibling of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec (Cot) and Carmenère.
In Switzerland, this variety which is easy to grow but prone to mildew was introduced to the canton of Vaud in the mid-19th century. However, its greatest success has been in Ticino, becoming the symbol of the canton after its introduction in 1906, following the phylloxera crisis.