The Arnold Schwarzenegger of Wine
Blake Gray, the SF Chronicle’s ubiquitous wine writer, made note of the fact that he’s pretty sure he’s tasted "Pinot Noirs" with Syrah blended into them:
"Blending up to 25 percent of a varietal different from the one on the
label is already legal in the United States. I’ve never seen a Pinot Noir/Syrah
combination listed on a front label, but I’m pretty sure I’ve tasted plenty of
them, especially in the bargain price range."
Blake, I think, is being kind. The character of Pinot Noir has changed drastically over the past decade. I was a wine you could count on to be merely moderate in body with that intriguing nose unmistakable as anything other than Pinot. Yet today, Pinot in California often does not resemble this kind of beauty. I can’t tell you how many Pinots I’ve tasted that I could only guess were Pinot were they served to me blind. I’m not expert taster, but I can usually identify a classic pinot simply by the process of elimination. Not any more.
Interestingly, Blake makes note of the bargain price Pinots that he’s questioned. I’d reckon that I’ve tasted many more "high-end" Pinots that must have something hefty in them besides Pinot Noir. I’ve also had a few industry types confirm that this happens.
In California, as Blake points out, if it has only 75% of one variety in the wine, then that’s what you call it. This bit of slight of hand reminds me of Governor Arnold in CA. While technically he is a politician, all the evidence points to him as really being an actor.