Friday, October 8, 2010

Attack of the Clones

Since my winery produces mainly Rhone varietals and blends, we got another few tons of Syrah yesterday.  This time, it came from a vineyard on Silverado Trail in Calistoga (Napa Valley). As I was sorting the clusters, I noticed that there was a lot of variation. Some clusters were very tight, and others were a lot looser.  Some were small and fat, and others were long and lanky:

Which one's a Syrah cluster?

It turns out that different clones of Syrah produce different types of clusters. Both clusters above are Syrah, although you probably wouldn't think they're even the same varietal! Syrah 174, for example, produces tight clusters (right side). Syrah 877 is looser (left side). Other clones for Syrah include 300, 383, Hermitage, Estrella, and Shiraz (yep, the Australian version of Syrah).

Not many wine producers list the clones that they use in their wines.  Sometimes there will be some variation in the bins that they receive from the vineyards, and certain producers are pretty picky about the grapes they buy. For an example, see this link for Caldwell: Caldwell notes their clones. They also have a fantastic red blend called Rocket Science. Everyone I know loves it -- a lot!

And FYI, my winery occasionally purchases fruit from Caldwell.

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