Wine Talk

Snooth User: zufrieden

Clones of the Pinot Noir

Original post by zufrieden, Dec 20, 2009.

Some discussion of clones may shed light on the New World expression of Pinot Noir. I have long believed that clones explain a great deal of the diversity found in the many wines made from this globe-hopping noble grape. Terroir, vineyard maintenance and climate do not seem to fully explain the differences - at least, not to my satisfaction. Given the notoriously finicky nature of Pinot Noir, I think the topic of clones might be interesting to explore. Yet strangely, little of a popular nature seems to be written on the subject.

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Reply by zufrieden, Jan 10, 2010.

I look forward to whatever information we can get from the various New World growing regions (like Australia) - that's exactly what I was hoping might come forward during discussion. Thanks for looking into the matter - I'm sure you'll find it quite interesting in its own right. I'm hoping to find out the rootstock sources of growers in the Okanagan Valley (in British Columbia) and clonal selection generally. This may take time, so stay tuned.

With regard to commentary on Gouais Blanc (I refer partly to that interesting, amusing but tantalizingly brief article in the New York Times) perhaps it just goes to show that betterment in breeding has inescapable connections to random mixing - a kind of democracy. While knowingly pushing this idea to its conceptual limits, I can't help thinking that this is a Darwinian endorsement of mixing generally. So, your mother might be Gouais Blanc, but you might become the main ingredient in Les Clos...

Reply by dmcker, Jan 20, 2010.

A notice I just got in the (e)mail. I assume this kind of thing is what drove you, zufrieden, to start this thread about PN clones. I can't help but wonder what most consumers think receiving this type of information. Can't help but think that more than one would want some kind of decoder ring... ;-)

"We just tasted both of the Kastania Pinot Noirs and we were very impressed! *They are both about as varietally correct as one could hope for.* Even if you are not sure you like Pinot Noir or are a fan of Burgundies you will love these wines.

"2006 Kastania Estate Pinot Noir (Winery price $35) -- Our Price $29
A blend of Pommard and 115 Clones of Pinot Noir. After cold soaking the wine was aged in 100% French oak barrels for nearly a year, then bottled unfined and unfiltered. The color is light (as many fine red Burgundies are), but the aromas of strawberry, cranberry and hints of spice explode from the glass. The flavors are consistent with the aromas, and the balanced acidity makes this wine a great food wine as well as a candidate for two to five years of aging. Only 315 cases were made.

"2006 Kastania Proprietor's Rsv Pinot Noir (Winery price $45) Our Price $39
The 2006 Proprietor's Reserve (393 cases made) is comprised of Pommard Clone, Clone 115 and Clone 667 of Pinot Noir that were hand-selected from the best blocks in the vineyard. A little darker than the Estate, with distinct aromas and flavors of red cherry, plum, cranberry, and spice notes of clove and cinnamon. Balance, complexity and elegance in the glass! It was also aged in 100% French oak barrels and bottled unfined and unfiltered."

Reply by zufrieden, Jan 20, 2010.

Yes, in a certain sense you are right - I had noticed a similar bit of name-dropping on the back of a bottle of of Mercurey (produced by M. Juillot, I believe).

I also have seen other references to clones taking their names from various Côtes d'Or communes (like Pommard) similar to those in the example you provided. Still, it is surprising that any reference to a numbered clone - let alone hundreds of them - would be expected to resonate with the average consumer. Of course, I and others like me find these references interesting, but that's another matter altogether.

Perhaps we on the cusp of something with this forum.

Reply by dmcker, Mar 3, 2010.

If you want to talk clones for syrah, not pinot, looks like they're getting serious in Carneros:


Vultus 2007 Syrah

25 cases produced

About the vineyard

Carneros is an exciting region for syrah. Over the past few years, Las Madres has established itself among the elite. Now into its seventh leaf, we can identify the tell-tale Nicoise olive nose from a mile away. If you want a terroir wine, you'll be hard-pressed to find one more distinctive than this. Planted on a combination of 300 and 174 clones on hillside slopes, it gets plenty of hang time to develop its flavors. The 300 block provides a strong core of forward fruit while the 174 block backs it up with more structured, earthy components. Combining fruit from these two blocks creates greater complexity in the finished wine and can either be vinified together or separately and blended later. The vineyard uses organic practices and is farmed for low yields.

About the wine
  • Fruit source Las Madres Vineyard Carneros
  • Fruit picked on October 12 2007 Brix 26.5
  • Crushed on October 18 2007 partial destem
  • Fermentation started October 20 2007
  • Fermentation ended October 30 2007
  • Pressing started October 30 2007
  • Aging in used Seguin Moreau French barrel (one year old)


Reply by zufrieden, Mar 3, 2010.

Yes.  It is precisely this sort of techno-speak that I felt was slipping into the notes on some wine labels - even in France (c.f. my earlier comment January 20th). I would welcome a discussion of clones and reasons for their emergence on wine labeling.  Prior to the new advertising habit of listing numbered clones, clonal varieties seemed more the stuff of vineyard maintenance.

Well, apparently not.

Reply by Wines, Mar 1, 2013.

Ever heard of Rotarian Gloria or viterea glorea Pinot noir root stock?

Reply by Tom Wandeloski, Mar 1, 2013.

I've always been a fan of Pinot Noir, but its "cousin" - Pinotage (a cross between Pinot Noir & Cinsaut) is quite good as well.  My first time trying Pinotage was in early 2004 after taking some R&R leave from my military duties in Iraq to Cape Town, South Africa and tasting the Pinotage at the Spier Winery. The location, view, vineyards, food and Pinotage were outstanding!  :-)

Reply by amour, Mar 1, 2013.

TOM, we have discussed Pinotage from time to time in the SNOOTH FORUM.

Some mentioned were: Lindhorst from Paarl, Sebeka Cabernet/Pinotage, Warwick "Old Bush Vine 2006 from Stellenbosch.

I did rather like the peppery, spicy old bush!

There is a festival of old bush wine in South Africa...interesting!  CHEERS!


Reply by penguinoid, Mar 2, 2013.

Dmcker - I like "aromas of strawberry, cranberry and hints of spice explode from the glass". It's not often a wine tasting note leaves me thinking I should be hiding behind a blast-proof shelter ;-)

Wish I could add more about pinot noir clones -- I have to do some reading about this over the next few weeks but haven't started yet. So far, it seems like a subject that's very difficult to get information about.

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