Pinot Noir, compared to other varietals, is genetically unstable, resulting in many variations of Pinot Noir (much like heirloom tomatoes). We call these variations clones because each variation is cloned to keep it genetically identical.
Each Pinot Noir clone has its own special characteristics. These can be physical differences in the fruit and clusters, or different attributes they lend to the resulting wines. We have fourteen clones planted on our vineyards, and while the place they are planted a huge impact on the wine (every winemaker and vineyard manager will argue which is more important) each clone usually has unique characteristics.
Assistant Vineyard Manager Riggs Lokka is going to tell us more about each clone and show us how to identify different clones by cluster shape.
This Heritage clone is named for Joseph Swan, a pioneer of Pinot Noir in Sonoma County. It’s immediately recognizable by its tiny clusters and berries. Often very intense, it retains its acidity even at higher Brix, and we expect it to produce very dark wine.
The berries of the Hyde clone are small, concentrated bursts of intensity. They carry aromas of black fruit and olives, and contribute a meaty, plush mouthfeel to our Hallberg Ranch wine.
Also called the Mount Eden clone, 37 is known for small clusters and tiny berries that deliver concentrated fruit flavors. You can reliably expect intense notes of stone fruit, soft tannins, and a creamy, fleshy mouthfeel. We prize it for its intensity, rich mouthfeel, and ageability. Taste it in our La Combette.
934 is another clone prized for its high skin to juice ratio due to very tiny (almost currant-sized) berries. It’s similar in structure to 37 but with more overt and exotic liqueur-like fruit aromas.
Clone 667 offers flavors of dark bramble fruits and baked goods, and aromas including dark cherry, raspberry, strawberry, and baking spices. The tannins are robust, providing the framework for our Hallberg Ranch wine’s spectacular depth and the incredible power in our Wesley’s Reserve.
The berries of clone 777 tend toward small, with thick skins and higher seed count. Those factors contribute firm and chewy tannins, as well as notes of dried berry or stone fruit (think fruit leather).
Named by our vineyard team in honor of Kirk Lokka (aka Don Cruz), the Cruz is a suitcase selection from Richebourg, a Grand Cru Vineyard in Burgundy. It carries notes of small red fruits like currants, with undercurrents of the savory and the herbal. Taste it in our Pinot Hill Cruz.
Think of 115 as hand grenades of notable tannins, consistent aromatic profile of black cherries, leather, and roses, and flavors of cherries, blueberries, boysenberries, rose petals, and anise. We are big fans of its fresh balance, aromatic profile, mid-palate silkiness. Taste it in our Don’s Block.
All Pommard clones tend towards a dense mouthfeel similar to 828, with thick skins that make for deep color and firm tannins.
Clean and fruit-forward, 828 grapes are intensely fruity, known to produce noble and complete wines. Unlike the ‘Archery Summary’ version of 828, it has the standard growing profile of droopy canes and clusters.
“Archery Summit” 828
It’s not completely clear when the Archery Summit clone took on the name 828, but it was sometime before the true 828 clone was available in California. This clone is also called 828 Droite, which alludes to its upright growing habits—canes that point skywards and clusters that do the same. It contributes deep color, focused sweet berry fruit flavors, and excellent retention of acidity to our wines.
The Elite is another suitcase selection from La Romanée, the most famous Pinot Noir vineyard in the world. We prize it for notes of tropical flowers and exotic fruits such as olallieberry and pomegranate, as well as a luscious, syrupy mouthfeel. Taste it in our Hallberg Elite and Pinot Hill Elite.