Why don't you see more Pinot Noir used in blends?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

Is Pinot Noir ever used in blends? If not, why?

—Tim L., Dallas

Dear Tim,

As one of the three main grapes used in Champagne production (along with Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier), Pinot Noir is often blended—with great success—in sparkling wines. When it comes to still wines, you're right that Pinot Noir is most often bottled solo, though historically, there have been some examples of things blended into Pinot Noir to make them heavier (including Syrah in Burgundy and Leon Millot in Alsace). I know of some New World Pinot Noir-based blends, but they're few and far between.

Why is this? Of the Pinot Noir producers I canvassed to get a response, the answer was simply that it doesn't work: "It's like trying to find a rhyme for the word 'orange,'" offered one vintner. Pinot Noir is about balance and a sense of place (which is true even with more modern, heavier styles), and blending doesn't help achieve these goals. Of course, the relatively high cost and difficulty of growing Pinot Noir grapes might also have something to do with it.

—Dr. Vinny

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