I stumbled onto this issue the other day and found it at somewhat interesting. Here is a link to an article in the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat.
Gallo and Constellation have settled a class action lawsuit that that was filed when it wsa discovered that wine that had been purchased from France and was sold by Gallo/Constellation under various labels as Pinot Noir actually contained excessive amounts of Petite Sirah and Merlot.
Apparently, this all came to light when a dozen people were convicted in 2010 by the French government of selling the bogus Pinot Noir. Gallo and Constellation had official verifying the origin, but, in fact, the wine did not contain sufficient Pinot Noir to be labeled such.
I feel a tad sorry for Gallo/Constellation, because they had obviously relied on the honesty of their French sellers and the "official" documents before putting the wine into bottles and selling it as Pinot Noir. On the other hand, as a consumer, if a bottle says "Pinot Noir," I expect it to made from at least 75% (minimum legal threshold in the United States, I think) Pinot Noir grapes. If this Pinot Noir/Merlot/Petite Sirah blend had been sold as "Red Wine," then all would have been good.
Constellation Gallo Pinot Noir Suit
- Reply by JonDerry, Jan 28, 2012.
Funny, was just out with a neighbor tonight whose sister makes Pinot Noir up in Oregon. He was talking about how a lot of wineries mix Pinot Noir with other grapes, but I never really thought of this varietal as much of a mixing/blending kind of grape. Overall, I accepted this as a general truth before adding the caviat, "but the blending probably occurs mostly at the lower levels, no serious wines would blend pinot noir"
Obviously Gallo/Constellation would slot nicely into the lower/commercial winemaking category, but it doesn't mean CA or North American Pinot Noir isn't blended with other grapes in some cases with the high end and/or boutique's
- Reply by GregT, Jan 28, 2012.
Gallo got screwed in that deal. As far as blending PN, there's really no reason not to and people are increasingly doing it. Not to sell it as PN, but just to include PN in the blend. There are some people who would claim that Pinot Noir is so profound, so "transparent" or so whatever, that it should never be blended but really the main reason it's not blended is force of habit.
It would also let the blender think of it a little differently. Typically you plant it in cooler areas with shorter seasons but that's to sell it as varietal wine. If you were to plant it somewhere else, you may get different characteristics that you could use in your blends. In France they don't typically do it but even a few producers there make blends with it. In the US it gets this weird reverence but in countries where they aren't afraid to ignore the sacrosanct quality of the grape, they do it. I have blends from Spain, Argentina, Hungary, Slovenia Italy and Australia and I'm sure it's done elsewhere.