What are the most popular clones of Pinot Noir?

Answered by Randall Whitlock

In the mainstream market, the most popular clones of Pinot Noir are primarily the Dijon Clones. These clones, including 114, 115, 667, and 777, dominate the Pinot Noir vineyards due to their many desirable characteristics.

One of the reasons these clones are widely planted is because they ripen fairly consistently. This is crucial for winemakers, as it ensures that the grapes reach optimal maturity and can be harvested at the right time. Consistent ripening also helps in producing wines with balanced flavors and aromas.

Another advantage of the Dijon Clones is their ability to set well. This refers to the process of flower fertilization and subsequent grape development. The Dijon Clones have shown good fruit set, meaning they have a high rate of successful fertilization and can produce a good quantity of grapes.

Furthermore, these clones are known for their disease resistance. Pinot Noir is a delicate grape variety that is susceptible to various diseases, such as powdery mildew and botrytis. However, the Dijon Clones have shown better resistance to these diseases, reducing the need for excessive pesticide use and ensuring healthier vines.

Additionally, the Dijon Clones deliver gobs of fruit, meaning they produce grapes with abundant flavors and juiciness. This is a desirable trait in Pinot Noir, as it contributes to the 's overall richness and complexity. Winemakers often seek out these clones for their ability to produce fruit-forward wines that are appealing to a wide range of consumers.

While the Dijon Clones are the most popular, there are also a few other clones occasionally used in Pinot Noir production. These include clones 113, 943, and 828. These clones may not be as widely planted, but they can still contribute unique characteristics to the wine. For example, clone 828 is known for its high tannin levels, adding structure and aging potential to the wine.

In my experience as a sommelier, I have tasted many Pinot Noirs made from these popular clones. Each clone brings its own nuances and flavors to the wine. For example, wines made from clone 115 often exhibit bright red fruit flavors, while wines made from clone 777 tend to be darker and more concentrated. It is fascinating to see how these different clones can create such diverse expressions of Pinot Noir.

The Dijon Clones, including 114, 115, 667, and 777, dominate the mainstream market for Pinot Noir. Their consistent ripening, good fruit set, disease resistance, and fruit-forward characteristics make them highly sought after by winemakers. However, it is always exciting to explore wines made from other clones as well, as they bring their own unique qualities to the table.