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Pinot Noir overtakes Cabernet in Sonoma County, Merlot is ‘dismal’

Pinot Noir prices overtook Cabernet Sauvignon in Sonoma County last year for the first time – and look set to continue, according to the Sonoma Wine Grape Commission.

The average price per ton of Pinot Noir in 2006 came to US$2,507 per ton, compared to $2,266 for Cabernet Sauvignon.

Sonoma Wine Grape Commission President Nick Frey said he expected the trend to continue for several years and that the price for Pinot Noir in 2007 should reach $3,000 per ton.

‘According to Frey, however, the popularity of the grape was not entirely due to its recent on-screen success.

‘This trend pre-dated Sideways,’ he told decanter.com. ‘I think consumers started to discover very fine Pinot Noir growing areas in Sonoma County, such as Carneros, the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast [before the film].’

According to the October issue of US wine trade publication Wines & Vines, demand for Pinot Noir drove premium Sonoma vineyard prices beyond $100,000 per acre in 2006, with recent acquisitions of Pinot Noir properties setting further records this year.

Frey also expects Pinot Noir to exceed Cabernet plantings this year.

‘I expect Pinot Noir acreage to surpass Cabernet Sauvignon in 2007 due to some new plantings,’ he said.

Frey added that Merlot was ‘dismal’ with prices averaging $1,550 per ton.

Written by Panos Kakaviatos

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