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Making Rattlesnake Hills AVA Dijon Clones Pinot Noir

2017 October 8

A first for this winemaker is making Washington State Pinot Noir.  This year through the efforts of the Musto Wine Grape Company we were able to obtain some really outstanding fruit from the Allechant Vineyards in the Rattlesnake Hills AVA . 

The fruit was carefully grown by  Jeremy Porter.  Jeremy began his viticulture career managing a mid-sized vineyard and a winery in the Red Mountain AVA of the Yakima Valley. His initial steps through the vineyard were guided by the apprenticeship of the late Michael T. Moore, a graduate of U.C. Davis and a pioneering force in the Washington and Red Mountain wine industries. Jeremy later went on to earn a Certificate of Viticulture through Washington State University under the tutelage of the venerable Dr. Markus Keller, Dr. Michelle T. Moyer, and others. His vineyard management philosophies include low impact, sustainable farming practices, along with low-yield, stressed-vine management, mostly accomplished through the judicious use of regulated deficit irrigation.

We had some questions when arranging to obtain the grapes as to the clones.  While there are 2 clones which make a stand alone Pinot Noir, it is a widely accepted practice to use more than one clone to add complexity of character to the wine.   Clone 115 and Clone 777 are two of these stand alone clones if no other clones are available.   Obviously for us we wanted to be sure we were getting at least one of those.  We received the 777 clone and to our surprise we received an equal amount of Clone 92.   I am sure the Musto Team made this happen with our over 3,000 pound order.

So what is with these clones was our question months ago.   Many of us heard of Clone 777.  But Clone 92 was a mystery.   Here is what they say about Clone 777.  Small, compact cluster, small berries, low-yielding, strong and intense color due to thick skins and higher seed count, very aromatic with dense and complex black fruit flavors (black cherry, cassis), with leather, tobacco, and earthy notes. Can be a powerful, monster of a wine almost Cabernet-like if not carefully farmed. Highly structured with tannin structure to age. Tannins are exaggerated in warm locations where sugar accumulates quickly, even more so than clone 667. More consistent than clone 667 and similar in character to clone 115.

So that left Clone 92 to be explored.   This was not easy to find and took some crafty internet searching.  Firstly there are today about 43 certified Dijon clones of Pinot Noir in the Catalogue of Grapevine Varieties and Clones published by ENTAV-INRA® (L’Establissement National Technique pour l’Ameléioration de la Viticulture/Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, France), and 15 are significantly propagated throughout the world as suitable for Pinot Noir still wine. There are probably anywhere from 200 to over a 1,000 genetically unique Pinot Noir clones, a reflection of Pinot Noir’s genetic instability. The ENTAV-INRA® trademarked clones are registered and assigned a unique certification number.   This took me to ENTAV-INRA’s website. Where I found, VCR 20, Vivai Cooperativi Rauscedo, Italy.  Pinot Noir 92 (Proprietary VCR20 Vivai Cooperativi Registered and cannot be distributed without written permission of the owner.  Distributed by Novavine Grapevine Nursery.

So I took a look at the Novavine Grapevine Nursery website and found this,

deeper than average ruby red; complex nose of woodland fruit; excellent balance and structure for aging. Micro-vinification:  intense cherry nose, with mint and spice;  medium body, tannic;  slight bitter finish with lingering cherry and dark chocolate.

So it appears to me the grapes we have in the vats cold soaking and will be co-fermenting is going to produce a pretty dark and hearty wine.  We look forward to a 14 day fermentation with a nice 88degree heat spike.

9 Responses leave one →
  1. glenn permalink
    October 11, 2017


    How were the numbers on the pinot noir?

  2. October 11, 2017

    Initial Numbers post crush 3.6 22.5 24 hours later 25 Beautiful Fruit dark as night very thick skins. Soaking since Saturday Pitch today (4 day cold soak)

  3. October 15, 2017

    3001 is the ticket ASSMAN suck!

  4. Bzac permalink
    October 20, 2017

    We grow 667, 777 , 115 and 526
    But my favorite so far is the clone 93 , I’m fermenting it all separately and it’s by far the darkest must .

    I’m using Renaissance brio yeast , the no h2s stuff , it’s a Pinot specific version .

    It will be interesting to see how it comes out . I’ve got two rows I need to graft over , and am thinking about doing 93 .
    I wonder if it’s similar to the 92 clone .

  5. Bzac permalink
    October 20, 2017

    I’ve used 3001 previously and liked it .

  6. Bzac permalink
    October 20, 2017

    The time I used 3001 , it was on my 2014 Washington Yakima Pinot noir

  7. October 20, 2017

    Hey Zac I think it is very close to 92 which is dark as night. You can find both at the site above ENTAV-INRA’s website. Where I found, VCR 20, Vivai Cooperativi Rauscedo, Italy. Pinot Noir 92

    3001 is very nice would be interested in trying the Renaissance next time. Let me know how it worked out From what I read there is very little difference between 667 and 777 and it seems 777 is a better choice of the two. Glad to see you are doing well on facebook!

  8. crazy run ranch permalink
    December 13, 2017

    Lots of disagreement on Pinot clones. I’m not a big fan of 777 as it seems really fruit forward without much complexity. But I do think having a clone mix is good, since Pinot is not typically blended, a clone mix usually brings complexity. Pommard clone is nice in the Russian River Valley, I think its better suited to a warmer Pinot growing area. In fact, I think matching clone to site is the most important thing. Why use a Dijon clone (selected for crappy weather in Burgundy) and grow it on a warmer site? Hell, you don’t even need Dijon clones in Oregon anymore. It is very interesting that Pinot is so unstable and keep making new versions of itself.

  9. December 13, 2017

    Well this ability to get different clones was a new opportunity to explore and as you say there is much to be learned about Pinot Noir and what clones would be best. I know you know we don’t have lots of choices out here. It is amazing to see all those clones listed and they keep developing.
    Strange Grape for sure.

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