Cognac, the village and the AOC, is a quiet pastoral place. The village bustles at times, but primarily as a business hub and central marketplace for a largely rural community and only secondarily, it seems, as the world center for a unique iconic style of spirit.
Editors' note: To close 2011, Palate Press: The online wine magazine will be featuring some of our top stories from the past year. Our fourth piece comes from columnist Evan Dawson, reporting on the uproar over rumors that California Pinot Noir producers beef their wines up with Syrah.
California hardly conjures up an image of a wine region struggling with an identity crisis. But there are areas of the Golden State that have never fully defined a winemaking niche.
Winemakers who work hard to bring pure, outstanding Pinot Noir to their customers are sick of accusations about blending with Syrah. But cutting Pinot with Syrah or other varieties is perfectly legal. In California, a wine can be labeled “Pinot Noir” as long as 75% of the wine is Pinot. So why do we care if winemakers are cutting their Pinot?