{"api":{"host":"https:\/\/pinot.decanter.com","authorization":"Bearer ZDc0ZjcwZGFlNTcwOWQ4Y2FkNzNjZjIyNWRiZWY3ZGZjZTBjNzcwNTNiMzMyYTRkZTRjOTU0YzA5ZTdlNTE1MQ","version":"2.0"},"piano":{"sandbox":"false","aid":"6qv8OniKQO","rid":"RJXC8OC","offerId":"OFPHMJWYB8UK","offerTemplateId":"OFPHMJWYB8UK","wcTemplateId":"OTOW5EUWVZ4B"}}

Pinot Noir blends – Ask Decanter

Why don't we see Pinot Noir much as a blend in still wines?

Lindsay Dawn Schultz, by email, asks: The only red blend I’ve ever come across that contains Pinot Noir is Silk (66% Pinot, 18% Malbec and 16% Petite Sirah) from California’s Ménage à Trois label. Why are Pinot Noir blends so rare, and are there any other red blends you know of that contain Pinot Noir?

Andy Howard MW replies: It is certainly true that red blends are rarely made with Pinot Noir, although it’s clear that Pinot blends well as it is a major component in many top Champagnes. Why is this?

The answer is in part related to Pinot Noir’s unique character – thin skins, pale colour, refinement and elegance, silky tannins, a complex and distinctive nose, notable acidity, ageworthiness and high quality. Winemakers want to make wines that emphasise these qualities, rather than dilute them with other varieties.

Commercially, Pinot Noir is a strong ‘brand’ and most producers prefer to focus on 100% varietal Pinot as this is a better marketing message. Growing conditions provide another reason as the key requirements for successful Pinot viticulture are different to many of the varieties more commonly used in blending – Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo.

You’re right that there are few blends using Pinot Noir – however, a particularly delicious one is Doña Paula’s Blue Edition Velvet Blend – an Argentinian blend of Malbec, Pinot Noir and Bonarda. California also has a history of blending in some Syrah – a wine labelled Pinot Noir can legally be just 75% Pinot Noir (although this generally applies to cheaper wines).

Meanwhile, the French AC of Bourgogne Passe-tout-grains must contain at least one-third Pinot Noir, but here it must be blended with Gamay prior to fermentation.

This question first appeared in the March 2019 issue of Decanter magazine.

More wine questions answered here

Latest Wine News