I have a few dozen loose cluster Pinot Noir vines in the vineyard (out of 3100). I always wondered what they were. In fact the viticulturist from DeLoach was over last week and he confirmed they were Pinot but didn’t know which clone. So…in researching I could only find one loose cluster Pinot that was available from the nursery where I purchased all the vines…and that is Clone 23, otherwise known as Mariafeld.
I found this description of the vine. “Clone 23 is interesting in that the cluster and berry sizes are much larger than most Pinot clones. It always provides dark colors, very bright, fruity flavors with high acidity.” In addition, due to the loose clusters it is resistant to botrytis and if needed will allow you to let the fruit hang longer on the vine.
So, I think the mystery is solved and it seems to be a very nice addition to the Pommard and 667 Clones at Turtle Vines!
For comparison, below is a normal Pommard Clone. Notice how tightly spaced the cluster is relative to the Mariafeld clone above.
Making our clone selection of Pinot Noir for the vineyard is very important. Since we are planting 2916 vines (our 2 lucky number….29 and 16) we want to be able to make wine ourselves. In many cases people have only used one clone for a wine, but most of the good wines have a combination of clones. Given our size we thought 2 would be the right number. Greg had an idea that we should barrel taste at Lynmar Winery which is about 4 miles from the house. They have many different clones that we could taste by themselves to see what we liked. As you can see from the pictures we a lot to choose from. We tasted about 20 different barrels….Joey and I don’t know how to spit so we ended up drinking quite a bit that afternoon. We particularly liked 3 varieties: Swan, Calera and 667. We thought we were set but decided to do a little more research. I called Nova Vines, the supplier of good vines in the area, and they told us that Swan and Calera could not be certified as virus free. They suggested we pick something without virus’s, especially given the small size of our vineyard. We then went to the nearest winery that grows grapes on their land, Merry Edwards. They make a lovely Pinot made entirely from the Mt Eden clone. Also, they suggested we plant a virus free clone. Joey emailed Merry directly and she thought Mt Eden with 667 would make a very nice, dark Pinot. So…..that is what we ordered. They are growing in Sacramento this summer and will be planted next April. We hope it works out and everyone likes this combination…..we have not seen a wine with only these two clones.