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HomeWineHeritage Clones & Picks of Pinot Noir: Oddballs within the Fashionable World

Heritage Clones & Picks of Pinot Noir: Oddballs within the Fashionable World


It’s these heritage clones: 2A/ Wädenswil, Calera, Pommard, Martini, Mount Eden, and Swan that fascinate true Pinot lovers, as they’ve wealthy tales to inform.

By Laura Ness

Pinot Noir within the mainstream market is made primarily from Dijon Clones 114, 115, 667 and 777, with the occasional 113, 943 and 828 thrown in for good measure. They’re extensively planted as a result of they ripen pretty constantly, even in coastal climes, set fairly effectively, are disease-resistant and ship gobs of fruit. 

Fermenting 122 Vosne-Romanee clone at Winery in Corralitos

Originating from France, the “Dijons” had been developed to exchange diseased vines there, however instantly discovered takers in Oregon. They actually got here into vogue after the appearance of “Pinot mania,” because of a man named Miles (in a film known as Sideways). These clones du jour quickly outpaced and, in lots of instances, displaced the outdated “heritage” clones of the previous. 

Happily, some winemakers love range, even when it goes hand-in-hand with adversity — and actually, when does it not? 

First discovery, first steps

It’s these heritage clones: 2A/ Wädenswil, Calera, Pommard, Martini, Mount Eden, and Swan that fascinate true Pinot lovers, as they’ve wealthy tales to inform. Just like the Dijon clones, they’ve all been heat-treated for illness elimination and licensed by Basis Plant Providers at UC Davis. 

There are additionally alternatives that haven’t been thus licensed, together with David Bruce, Chalone, Coury, Pisoni, Rochioli and Wente. In contrast to the numbered clones, these are named for individuals and locations, including to their lore.

2018 Furthermore Starbridge Vineyard Pinot Noir
2018 Moreover Starbridge Winery Pinot Noir

Scattered from the furnace-like Chalone AVA in California’s Gabilan Mountains to the unlikely banks of the Eel River within the state’s Humboldt County, we tracked down among the winemakers who covet these “oddballs.” These artists make the sort of Pinot Noir that makes you set your glass down in amazement earlier than you’ve even tasted it. 

When the aromas defy description and have you ever trying to find a thesaurus, you understand you’ve hit the jackpot.

That is exactly what occurred after I sniffed the 2018 Moreover Starbridge Winery Pinot Noir, constituted of the Summa clone. This wine began me on a journey to be taught extra about these oddball clones.

Summa vibes

In response to Rusty Gaffney of PinotFile, Burt Williams of Williams-Selyem, who made Pinot Noir from the Summa Winery from 1988 till 1997 (together with the primary California Pinot Noir to promote for $100 per bottle in 1991), believes the Summa clone is derived from the Swan clone. Williams feels this clone, grown at that Western Sonoma County website (from which Starbridge was later derived), made among the easiest Williams-Selyem Pinot Noirs. 

Starbridge Vineyard, source of Summa Clone Pinot Noir from Furthermore
Starbridge Winery, supply of Summa Clone Pinot Noir from Moreover

Thomas Rivers Brown of Rivers Marie Vineyards in Calistoga, Calif., who’s owned Summa Winery since 2010, admits he’s run out of issues to say concerning the wines from this clone. With its nose-tingling aromas of windswept coastal hillside, unique spices, otherworldly fragrance and racy purple fruits, the 2018 Moreover wine scored 98 factors on the 2022 Sundown Wine Competitors. 

Pisoni, Coury Pommard and Calera

Clarice Wine Company Pinot Noirs
Clarice Wine Firm Pinot Noirs

Winemaker Adam Lee prizes the Pisoni choice, which was delivered to the USA by the erascible Gary Pisoni, allegedly smuggled by customs in his underwear. Lee sources it from each Garys’ Winery and Rosella’s Winery  (each in California’s Santa Lucia Highlands AVA) for his Clarice Wine Firm choices. He will get the identical clone from the close by Soberanes Winery for his Beau Marchais Wines. He says, “[Pisoni fruit] produces very darkish, wealthy, concentrated wines — which is a bit stunning, on condition that the cluster itself is pretty massive and the berries decently sized.” 

Testarossa Doctor's Vineyard Pinot Noir (Calera clone)
Testarossa Physician’s Winery Pinot Noir (Calera clone)

He additionally favors the Coury Choice Pommard, which he labored with in Oregon for a few years. (Earlier than the arrival of Dijons, Pommard and Wadenswil had been the unique Pinot clones planted in Oregon.) “Coury Pommard clusters had been smaller and it ripened fairly late, though which may even have been as a result of I labored with own-rooted vines,” says Lee. 

Invoice Brosseau of Testarossa Vineyard in Los Gatos, Calif., additionally makes ample use of the Pisoni clone planted at all of the vineyards within the Gary Franscioni and Pisoni portfolio. He additionally will get Calera fruit from Physician’s Winery to make the most well-liked of all of the Pinot Noirs Testarossa produces. “Calera at Physician’s is a really low-yielding clone, as a result of a excessive diploma of shatter,” he says. However the ensuing wine gives “very concentrated aromas in addition to palate depth, with notes of sage and darkish fruit profiles.” 

The Calera clone got here from Josh Jensen’s Winery in San Benito County (Calif.). Rumor has it Jensen suitcased it in from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti vineyards in Burgundy. From the Sanford & Benedict winery, Brousseau sources the Archery Summit 1 clone, which he says would possibly really be 828 Dijon due to its very upright progress sample. “Medium to semi- large berry dimension, with very juicy flavors and silky tannins, and darkish fruits equivalent to boysenberry and blackberry,” he describes.

122 Vosne-Romanée, 123 and Jardini

Testarossa's Fogstone vineyard
Testarossa’s Fogstone winery

At Fogstone Winery, one other monopole for Testarossa, Brosseau planted the 122 Vosne-Romanée clone, 123 and Jardini. “122 Vosne-Romanée is a brand new clonal choice,” he says. “Regular progress behavior and common fruit set, maybe barely smaller cluster dimension than most clones. It gives purple fruit profile and earth tones, with average depth within the palate.”

Testarossa Fogstone Vineyard Pinot Noir
Testarossa Fogstone Winery Pinot Noir

He provides 123 is similar to UC Davis clone 23 (in reality, it’s a cleaned up model of 23, which originated in Switzerland and have become often known as the Mariafeld clone). This fruit gives “very lengthy clusters and chewy tannins. It appears harking back to Syrah-cluster morphology: darkish shade and darkish flavors together with floral notes.  I discover it very distinctive and totally different from most clones.” 

Requested concerning the Jardini choice, Brosseau says, “Supposedly, it is a suitcase choice from a grower in Monterey County. It has good tannin construction and depth, just like the Pommard clone: purple fruit profile and regular cluster morphology and progress behavior.” 

Lester Winery in Corralitos can be rising the 122 Vosne-Romanée clone. Winemaker John Benedetti notes, ”It will get actually lignified at low sugars, which is nice for wines with stem inclusion.” He plans to make a particular mix this yr, with this and 2A. They’ll name it “Francisco,” in honor of his pal, the late Frank Cates, who was GM at Cinnabar Vineyard and helped set up Lester Household wines. 

Mount Eden, Merry Edwards and extra

The Mount Eden clone is without doubt one of the oldest in California, introduced from Burgundy to Saratoga by Paul Masson, who established what’s at the moment known as The Mountain Vineyard. Melville Vineyard in Santa Rita Hills depends on heritage clones, together with Mount Eden, for its deep, darkish bass notes and talent to face by itself. (Sidenote: Merry Edwards, who labored at Mount Eden Vineyards for 3 vintages, had some cuttings heat-treated at UC Davis in 1975 that grew to become Clone 37, the “Merry Edwards” clone.) Melville has that, plus Jackson and Swan, which assist lend Melville Pinot Noirs unimaginable depth, but supple grace. 

Jim Schultze of Windy Oaks in Corralitos is aware of he’s making liquid historical past when he crushes Chalone clone Pinot Noir from the Rodnick Winery, which is a part of the unique winery that Dick Graff planted at Chalone. With its excessive daytime warmth, you wouldn’t assume the realm a match for Pinot Noir. However, Schultze says, “It’s very chilly at evening, and the Pinot appears to reply to this. The ensuing wines are extremely fragrant, typically displaying potpourri, conifer and sandalwood on the nostril. Very distinctive on the palate, with purple berries, herbs and tangerine peel, with spherical mouthfeel and vigorous again palate and end.” Now that doesn’t sound prefer it comes from a desert, does it?  

Scott Caraccioli with rose of Pinot Noir made from Clone 236
Scott Caraccioli with rose of Pinot Noir constituted of Clone 236

On the other facet of the Salinas Valley from Chalone, you’ll discover Escolle Winery, residence to Caraccioli Wines in Santa Lucia Highlands, producing among the New World’s most constantly putting sparklings. Though he has an unlimited checklist of Pinot clones to select from (courtesy of late consulting winemaker, Michel Salgues, who was educated in Champagne), Scott Caraccioli prefers to make use of Pinot Noir clone 236, initially imported by Roederer from Chouilly, France, for his completely completely pink and poised rosé: “It holds acid and pH like there’s no tomorrow.”

The final word Martini

One of the crucial intriguing of all of the oldies is the Martini clone, aka Clone 13, sourced from the Inglenook Winery in Rutherford, Calif., and planted by Louis M. Martini on the Stanly Ranch in Napa Carneros. It’s identified for its vivid purple fruits, together with strawberry and raspberry. 

When winemaker Adrian Manspeaker of Joseph Jewell Wines (Healdsburg, Calif.), despatched out impartial barrel samples for a Zoom tasting earlier this yr, you can simply spy the Martini bottles, with their virtually magenta transparency. The Dijons had been darkish and brooding.

Adrian Manspeaker in Joseph Jewell's Starscape Vineyard (Photo Credit: Heather Daenitz)
Adrian Manspeaker in Joseph Jewell’s Starscape Winery (Photograph Credit score: Heather Daenitz)

Manspeaker, who seems to be a devotee of this clone, sources Martini fruit from a number of winery websites together with Starscape (previously Floodgate, one of many oldest vineyards within the Russian River Valley, and, in Humboldt County, from Alderpoint, Elk Prairie and Phelps.

Elk Prairie is own-rooted and, of the three, essentially the most racy and distinctive. Whereas all confirmed vibrant apple and purple cherry, wine from Elk Prairie was a marvel of spiced crabapple, Alpine strawberry, rhubarb and a mouthwatering core of tangerine, with a end of cinnamon. It’s the place Manspeaker first found and fell in love with this clone in 2008. “We are inclined to see longer hangtime with this explicit clone,” he says. 

“The ensuing wines I’ve constituted of Martini clones are all the time vibrant with recent purple cherries, orange rind and minerality. I like minerality in Pinot Noir and that’s why I gravitate to this clone.” 

Elk Prairie Vineyard (Photo Credit: Adam Decker)
Elk Prairie Winery (Photograph Credit score: Adam Decker)

Manspeaker additionally calls out the Asian spice, depth and class of the Phelps, and the focus and class from the 50-year-old Starscape vines. Though a lot of that winery has been replanted to Dijons (standard story), that low-yielding block of Martini stays. However in the end, it’s Elk Prairie that defines the recent red-fruited vibrancy he associates with the Martini clone. “I think about the Martini clone in Elk Prairie as my base for what the Martini clone ought to style like. This wine tends to journey that line of magnificence and the beast.”

As with all nice wines, I encourage you to take a journey of discovery and pattern these oddballs. I feel you’ll be pleasantly shocked. Cheers!


Laura Ness
Laura Ness

Laura Ness

Laura Ness is an avid wine journalist, storyteller and wine columnist (Edible:Monterey, Los Gatos Journal San Jose Mercury Information, The Livermore Unbiased), and a very long time contributor to Wine Trade Community. Generally known as “HerVineNess,” she judges wine competitions all through California and has a corkscrew in each purse. Nevertheless, she needs that each one wineries would undertake screwcaps!


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