I know about clones, can talk clones and drop buzzwords like ‘Dijon clones’ etc but I’ve never had the opportunity to compare single clones wines against each other.
At the American Wine Society conference last weekend in Portland, winemaker Don Crank of Willamette Valley Vineyards poured wines from the following Pinot Noir clones
667 (Dijon Clone)
777 Dijon Clone)
Followed by a blend of all four.
All were 2008 vintage and were made in neutral barrels.
Don said this was a clonal selection made by Muller (of Muller-Thurgau fame) in Switzerland. Don uses it to add complexity to a blend of clones.
I found it had a smokiness and it was my second favourite.
Don said that the Pommard clone accounts for two-thirds of all Pinot Noir planted in Oregon and is the one most likely to be found as a stand alone.
This was fuller, richer, silkier with rounded tannins. It’s a big, almost chewy, wine and my favourite of the four.
3) Dijon Clone 667
Dan said this was an early ripening clone with smaller berries and coarser tannins.
I found it lacking flavour, thin and with a sour finish, my least favourite of the four.
4) Dijon Clone 777
Don had faint praise for this, saying is was ‘good for blending’.
I found it interesting with a sweetness but also sour cherry notes, my third favourite.
5) South Block
This is a blend of all four of the above clones, which Don called a “commercial blend”.
Didn’t seem to me to be greater than the sum of its parts and not as enjoyable as the 100% Pommard clone.
We then tasted five other Willamette Valley Vineyard Pinot Noirs made from grapes sourced from different vineyards
6) Elton Vineyard 2010 (Eola-Amity Hills)
From 60 acres planted on volcanic Jory soil, blend of Wadenseil, Pommard, Dijon 115 and 777 clones.
Really enjoyable, balanced with great finish.
7) Winter’s Hill 2010 (Dundee Hills)
From a 35 acre vineyard planted in 1990 on volcanic Jory soil.
Red berries on palate but a sourish finish.
8 - Redman 2010 (Ribbon Ridge)
Grown by Kathy Redman, 30 acres planted.
Lightweight, pleasant but with hints of Dr Pepper.
9) Luminous Hills 2010 (Yamhill-Carlton District)
Dijon 115,667, 777
I just noted it was OK.
10) Momtazi Vineyard (McMinnville)
250 acres grown biodynamically by Moe & Flora Momtazi.
Deeper colour but had a puckering sour finish which I did not like.
Don had a lot of information to give, he answered many questions and we tasted ten wines but the session length was just 75 minutes so there was no time to linger on the wines.
The four single clone bottlings are available as a Clonal Tasting pack from the winery at $180.
There were distinct and very noticeable differences between the wines from the four clones.