In the past New Zealand Merlot (pronounced Mare-LOW) was mainly grown as a blending variety, predominantly with Cabernet Sauvignon dating back to the mid-1800s. The blending of the two varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon structure and delicacy and Merlot lively ripe fruit, create elegant, yet powerfully intense, red wine blends.
However, New Zealand Merlot is now recognised as a premium variety, its popularity is due to its softness, fruitier richness, plumpness and earlier-maturing. New Zealand’s cool climate and lengthy ripening season allows Merlot to slowly grow and concentrate its flavours.
About 75% of New Zealand Merlot is grown in the North Island wine regions, namely Northland, Auckland, Gisborne and Hawkes Bay with the balance grown in Marlborough wine region.