trifecta wrote:Lucas - While you are here, can you give us a little background on how you select the pinot noir clones that you work with? Your lineup is the first foray I have had into trying to discern the differences in clones grown in the same place with the same treatment.
It's not quite as simple as me picking the clones... it has more to do with what clones are available in the vineyard. In this case, the vineyard is interplanted with multiple clones, so this is picked and fermented together with a combination of clones. This is pretty typical for smaller vineyards.
Bigger growers, like Sangiacomo Vineyards, from whom I get the fruit for my 100% clonal bottlings, have enough vineyard that they plant by clone in each block, so that each clone can be picked independently. This is the case with all the fruit I receive from them, but I'm not sure if it's the case across all of their (many) vineyards.
I guess I'll put it like this:
I definitely have clones that I prefer, and clones that I'm not as big a fan of. That said, it has a lot more to do with the marriage of the clone and the vineyard site in tandem with the management practices and winemaking style. I.E.: It's just not that simple.
So while I could tell you that my favorite clones tend to be 777, 828, 114, and P5, my favorite of my Pinot Noirs is 100% Swan clone (a heritage clone).
The reason I like to do clonal bottlings is because I think it paints an interesting picture of what the wine is. I'm a huge proponent, as a lot of you know by now, of much increased transparency in the wine business. Part of the way that I illustrate that is by including as much information as possible if appropriate.
So while I might have clones that I'm a particularly big fan of, it ultimately is more complicated than that and is really case by case or vineyard by vineyard.
I also just think it's kind of cool. I like that I have (currently) two clonal bottlings from the same vineyard site. The contrast is fascinating and educational. I learn a lot from fermenting and tasting these lots side by side, and in the situation of Roberts Road Vineyard, where I'm not getting three clonal lots, I don't necessarily think that blending the three of them together makes a better wine than each independently. Their very different. And I kind of like that.
There is no better evidence to how hilariously individualistic wine preference is than hearing different people tell me which of the 2 or 3 they prefer in completely unpredictable ways. One person might tell me that they much prefer old world Pinot Noir, and I get that, and then tell me that they prefer the decidedly more new world style of the two. The next person might say that they love high octane, high pH wines that are super fruit forward, and then pick what I consider to be the much more earthy, less fruity of the two.
This isn't to mock them, it's just literally fascinating to see how consistently inconsistent wine behaves for different people. It sort of makes rating systems look extra silly. But that's another topic for another day.
TL;DR: Clones are funny things, and while I might have preferences, it's just a piece of the puzzle. Bottling by clone is more about the experience of tasting them against each other.