The white grape variety originates from France. Synonyms are Merlau Blanc, Merlaut Blanc and Merlot Bianco. It is said to have been brought back from a hunt in south-west France in 1891 by a vineyard owner named Guinaudie. He planted it in the vineyards of his Château de Geneau in Virsac. Due to a similarity with Merlot, it was named Merlot Blanc. DNA analyses carried out in 2009 finally identified a presumably natural cross between Merlot x Folle Blanche. The early ripening vine has good resistance to both types of mildew. The variety was very popular until the middle of the 20th century; in 1958, over 5,000 hectares of vineyards were still planted with it. However, the population has dwindled and today it is only grown in small quantities in the areas of Blaye, Côtes de Bourg, Entre-deux-Mers and Graves. It is also authorised in the Charente department for the liqueur wine Pineau des Charentes. In 2016, 44 hectares of vines were reported with a decreasing trend (Kym Anderson).
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