Wine Clones

Beer and Wine, Drinks, How-To, Wine 101
on May 1, 2008
Wine Clones
Mark Boughton Photogrpahy / styling by Teresa Blackburn

Q. I recently heard someone say that many wines are made from clones. Is this something I should be afraid of?

A. Fortunately, when viticulturists (vine experts) speak of clones, they’re not referring to grape-dom’s answer to Dolly the sheep. In the wine world, clones are nothing more than subtle variations—or, sub-varieties—of familiar grapes, such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Because clones share most characteristics of their parent varieties, they continue to be called by the same name, rather than becoming their own variety. But interestingly, clones sometimes develop different flavors. Therein lies the rub. Many wine producers deliberately plant specific clones for their flavor, and then feel compelled to rattle off a laundry list of complicated clone names and numbers on wine labels.

You may feel as though you need to clone yourself in order to find time to figure all this out. Bottom line? Don’t feel as though you need to decipher all this information in order to enjoy wine to the fullest.

—Charles Smothermon, a food and wine writer in Laurin, Mont.