I am often asked why we blend Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and other Bordeaux varieties here on Waiheke when so many wine regions in the new world stick to single varietals. My answer always brings in an old world region to explain why.
When you travel to France, Spain and some regions of Italy many of the top wines are blend of multiple varieties, the thinking is to use each variety to bring its own special characteristics to the blend so the sum of all parts is greater than the individual.
Here on Waiheke we grow the Bordeaux varieties - Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot and even some Carmenere and like Bordeaux we blend them together. The main two players are Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Cabernet Sauvignon as a varietal produces wines that is structured, tannic and full of black currant and dried herb aromas. It produces wines that will cellar well, but it often lacks mid-palate weight and can be one dimensional. Merlot is softer, fruitier and fills out the mid-palate, but on its own Merlot can produce wines that are fruity and easy drinking but not complex enough for ageing.
Put the two together and you get a wine that is structured, has dark fruits from the Cab Sav, soft red fruits from the Merlot, a good mid-palate weight from the Merlot and tannins for ageing from the Cab Sav.
Many of the great wines of Bordeaux, Napa Valley and Tuscany are made in this way, as are many of the great wines of the Hawkes Bay and Waiheke Island.