In a late-coming third part conclusion (see part 1 and part 2) here are my final notes from our visit to the Seven of Hearts tasting room in Carlton. These last two wines are both estate-grown from Byron’s Luminous Hills Vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton District AVA. Pommard as well as clones 667, 777 and 115 are used…

Wait, wait, wait – what clones? Makes wine sound like some kind of science-fiction plot from Lucas Films, right? And just when you thought all you needed to know were some basic French (noir, blanc, gris) color words to get you through Pinot.

Yes clones! In fact there are thought to be thousands of clones and mutations of Pinot noir around the world. The grape itself is highly prone to mutation given it’s surroundings and external circumstances, so just as little as moving vines from one location to another can trigger a change over time. There are certain clones that produce better wines than others, and so these are the ones that growers have tried to propagate and reproduce. Some have names like Pommard, referring back to one of the Burgundian Pinot Powerhouses, but others are just left with strings of numbers – as is the case with 667, 777 and 115.

Both 667 and 777 are considered top level Dijon clones (Ack! so many Burgundian references! You’d think they had something to do with wine!) They are blended primarily to create long-aging, well-structured wines. These 115 and Pommard are what Seven of Hearts uses for the Luminous Hills label.

2008 Estate Grown Pinot Noir Luminous Hills – Yamhill-Carlton

Appearance: Clear with very slight haze, rose or cherry red to a clear rim

Nose: Clean, spice, cayenne, dark fruit, perfumed, spiced fruit, saffron

Palate: Dry, medium acid and tannin, red cherry, strawberry, cranberry, some dried fruit, black raspberry, long finish

This wine is made from a blend of Pommard, 667 and 115. It really intrigued me with some of the spice characteristics that it offered. Byron explained how the fruit was drive by the 667 which is grown at higher elevation on volcanic soils while that spice we noticed was from the other two clones grown at lower elevation on more sedimentary soils.

2008 Estate Grown Pinot Noir, Lux, Luminous Hills – Yamhill-Carlton

Appearance: Clear, medium cranberry to clear rim

Nose: Clean, green vegetal, minerality, ripe red fruit, black cherry, herbaceous

Palate: Dry, medium acid and body, medium-low softer tannin, red fruit, strawberry, vegetable, raspberry, black cherry, spice, long finish

The Lux is then a blend of Pommard and 777 clones. The former is grown at lower elevation on sedimentary soil and the latter at higher elevation on volcanic base. Here I enjoyed the earth-driven minerality along with the tighter green vegetal characteristics.

So while it may be more of a clone party than a clone war (Sorry Mr. Lucas, we won’t be needing you after all. Dolly was cheaper), Pinot Noir clones definitely all offer some specific advantages and characteristics. I’d be really keen on a situation where you could taste each clone side by side, and if I ever find somewhere to do so I’ll be sure to write all about it.

Thanks for reading, and thank you to the Dooleys and Seven of Hearts for the great wines.

Cheers!

Ryan Reichert is originally from Northeast Ohio and recently relocated to the Willamette Valley where he works as the Tasting Room Manager at Trisaetum Winery in the Ribbon Ridge AVA. He has received both his Intermediate and Advanced certifications from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust, and is also a certified French wine enthusiast and Spanish Wine Educator. Ryan strives to learn all he can about wine and to share his passion with everyone. You can read more of Ryan’s work at http://www.oe-no-phile.com where he posts about many wine related topics.

About the Author: Ryan Reichert

Ryan Reichert is a Portland-based wine writer and educator. Enthusiastic about sharing the best of Oregon wines with everyone. Creator of Northwest Whites, focusing exclusively on Pacific Northwest white wines. Managing editor for "Palate Press: the Online Wine Magazine, an international wine publication.

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