Is Pinot Noir the Millenial’s Varietal? Pinot Smackdown Deux

The second annual Pinot Smackdown was held last week.  It seems that Pinot Noir makes the most appearances in the social media realm and has a large millennial following. With this second annual appearance, a few questions arise in regards to the attention Pinot Noir is commanding.

  •  Is Pinot Noir the most driven by social media than all the other varietals?
  • Are bloggers and millennial sommeliers partial to Pinot compared to the other varietals?
  • How come this is the only varietal to have a ‘second annual’ appearance?
  • Why are millenials so attached to Pinot Noir and creating  such a cult status of promoting this varietal across the world i.e. California, Oregon, France, etc. and the web?

In response to a few of these questions and a general theme is that Pinot Noir is a wine enjoyed by a more tech savvy and astute crowd, whom can tout their preferences of this diverse varietal. It has a varied price point and a broader range on the palette and due to its innate fickleness creates a diverse array of wines, from the dry French style to the thicker higher alcohol ‘jammy’ California rendition.

The millennial connoisseurs and perhaps Pinot Noir enthusiasts in general are a more brand conscious and image conscientious group, they like the prestige of this notoriously finicky varietal and getting their inputs out there. Not only from a winemaking stand point but from a viticulture standpoint as well, Pinot Noir is one of the most difficult varietals to grow due to its thin skin and susceptibility to mildew. As with all farming especially Pinot Noir, the weather patterns can be tricky, usually cooler climates with a bit of fog. i.e. moisture, and one heat wave could shrivel your whole crop. Pinot Noir garners a tragedy like story, this larger than life varietal experiences and lives through the whole growing season and is rescued and picked right at the best time to create this fantastic wine, some of the ugliest grapes produce the best wines. Growers and wine lovers alike love to relish in this story and empathize with its fickleness and greatness.

There is also a hierarchy within Pinot that people love to showcase, especially their knowledge of the clones and the hunt for wines made from specific heritage clones or field blends. It’s another example of the whole ‘one-up’ notion that Pinot has with its followers.  Touting which clone and region are the best and broadcasting this to all their followers and friends.

Being a Napa girl, of course I have a sweet spot for Carneros Pinot Noir. It is amazing the diversity of clones and expressions that these wines bring forth. On one hand you can have a French style Pinot Noir, nice bright acid paired with hints of dried cherries. On the other hand, there is the California-esque style of Pinot Noir, which sometimes is interpreted as a real thick ‘jammy’ fruit punch sort of Pinot Noir.  Not necessarily a favorite among distinguished connoisseurs of this varietal. However, I do know one farmer that is absolutely in love with this style of Pinot Noir and is excited when his grapes are made into a delightful fruity and ‘jammy’ Pinot (His daughter usually scoffs at his naiveté).  All in all, I love Pinot Noir and the farmers with nerves of steel that grow this varietal. I am partial to the field blends, blends create a more diverse wine that will change over time as you cellar it.

Cheers to everyone enjoying this varietal and to some of my favorite local producers: Mckenzie Mueller,   Mahoney Vineyards , Thomson Vineyards , Truchard ,and  ZD Wines.

We at Hossfeld Vineyards, are looking forward to the next Pinot Noir Smackdown as well as Cabernet day (9/1/11).


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