DSC_8269I often get asked at cellar door why do we have so many different Pinot Noir clones. The answer is quite simple really – because these clones allow us to make a better Pinot Noir. The pinot noir grapevine is genetically very unstable, so there are literally hundreds of naturally occurring variants referred to as clones. Premium pinot needs the complexity that a range of these clones brings to the tasting bench. Each clone variant has a unique quality that is great in and of itself – but when blended with other Pinot Noir clones it makes for the analogy “the sum of the whole is greater than the individual parts”.  This is why we have ½ a dozen different clones on the property.

Clone MV6 forms the backbone to all of our Pinot Noir wines. General characters are a dense fruit, full bodied with more tannins. Concentrated plummy and meaty characters, great structure as a “foundation” clone blend. Brooding wines with texture and spice and more complex. Clone originated from Griffith.

Clone 114: General characters tend to be a wine with bright red colour, medium fruit and tannin weight but with lots of raspberry and strawberry flavours, some dried herb and savoury characters with age. This clone is a good blending clone, as it can be a bit simple on its own.  Clone originated from Dijon, France.

Clone 115: General characteristics of the wine: deep dark red colour, more purple characters but with medium tannins. The flavours are dark fruit, cherry, plum, blackberry, quite intense and powerful. Full bodied and rounded tannin structure. Could be used on its own for a powerful fruit driven wine. Clone originated from Dijon, France.

Clone 777: General characteristics of the wine: intense aromas, lighter colour with finer fruit flavours, well balanced structure of fruit and tannin. Good all round clone, elegant style and complimentary to the more “heavier” Pinot clones. Clone originated from Dijon, France.

Clone D4V2: General characteristics of the wine:  extremely well structured wine, dense, chewy texture on front, middle and back palates and sweet nose. Big wine, loads of tannins to offset big fruit structure. Typically produces the biggest structured wines in the winery. Makes a great stand alone wine. Clone originated from Pommard, France.

Abel aka Ata Rangi aka Gumboot Clone: General characteristics of the wine are a supposedly higher acidity then the other Dijon clones, with a more complex and more savoury notes and good tannin structure. To date we are yet to pick this clone but will be doing so for the first time this vintage. We have heard outstanding things from those that are using this clone. Allegedly the clone originated from Domaine Romanee-Conti, France via NZ.

In 1982, soon after purchasing the Ata Rangi home block, Clive called Auckland winemaker Malcolm Abel and volunteered to work a vintage. He knew that Malcolm was also chasing premium pinot noir, and the two soon became close friends. Malcolm died unexpectedly a year later and the Abel Vineyard itself was ultimately lost to urban sprawl.

But Malcolm had already given Clive some promising pinot cuttings, the offspring of a single vine cutting allegedly taken by a traveller from Burgundy’s finest estate, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti . The illegal cutting had been intercepted and confiscated at Auckland airport, where Malcolm, coincidentally, was working as a customs officer in the mid 70’s. He immediately understood its significance, and sent it straight to the state-owned viticulture research station of the day.  Malcolm waited patiently for the first cuttings to become available, and duly planted them.

To this day, the Abel Clone, or Gumboot Clone (legend has it the stolen cutting was hidden inside a Kiwi gumboot) remains at the heart of Ata Rangi Pinot Noir. We love the texture, and length of palate it delivers. Its tannins are substantial, yet are incredibly silky and fine. From our site it brings dark cherry, and a brooding, savoury feel.