Pinot Noir is well-known for its clonal variations – a winemaking friend who follows these things says there are about 100 different ones available in the U.S. – and California winemakers in particular, love to talk about their Pinot clones the way old folks in retirement communities flash photos of grandchildren.
Bouchaine winemaker Chris Kajani recently had a virtual tasting of three of her Pinot clones bottled separately – and commercially available that way – along with an estate blend. We have notes on these and several other California beauties of various hues and prices.
2019 Joseph Carr “Josh Reserve” North Coast Chardonnay ($17). Lush apple flavors with vanilla and butterscotch – a touch sweet but balanced well enough to be enjoyable at the table, especially with plump poultry.
2020 Simon Family “Golden Ore” Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc ($75). Simultaneously exhibiting lots of golden apple flavors and warm oak notes alongside zesty, lean green fruits and lime in the finish.
NV La Crema Russian River Valley Brut Rosé ($41). Good, creamy mousse, crisp, light cherry flavors, and lots of metallic minerality.
NV Marietta Cellars “OVR” California Red Wine – Lot 73 ($16). A little raspy and chalky with slightly muddled red berry flavors and dusty tannins.
2020 Joseph Carr “Josh Reserve” North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon ($19). In spite of their ubiquity, the Josh reds are usually great bargains, and this one is a fine Cab, a little aggressive in a good sense, with ripe but tart fruit, pleasant wood flavors, and moderate tannins.
2020 Joseph Carr “Josh Reserve” Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon ($19). Well made with a blend of ripe cherry/berry flavors, including cranberries, dried herbs, and well-integrated tannins.
2019 Bouchaine Napa Valley Pinot Noir ($40). A blend of Pinot clones within the winery’s large Carneros vineyard, the wine has the signature cherry flavors, though a little light on fragrance, with some nice balancing savory notes that make it a good food wine.
2019 Bouchaine Napa Valley “Dijon Clone” Napa Valley Pinot Noir ($65). Its differences as a clonal offering are more spiciness, lean structure, and noticeable tannins.
2019 Bouchaine “Pommard Clone” Napa Valley Pinot Noir ($65). The most generous of the three – fragrant and smooth, with a juiciness that is almost fruity sweet.
2019 Bouchaine “Swan Clone” Napa Valley Pinot Noir ($65). The most Burgundy-like of the three clonal bottlings, very lean, crisp, and elegant.
2019 Beaulieu Vineyard “Rutherford Reserve” Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($85). It begins with smooth but plump red fruits, then finishes lean and savory with some notes of meaty bacon – quite delightful.
2019 Simon Family Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($125). Tight and tangy out of the bottle with lots of earth, and cocoa notes melding in with purple fruitiness reflecting its lovely hue. A long finish makes it a wine to savor.
Prices listed are generally SRP or from wine-searcher.com. As more wineries are shipping direct-to-consumer, check the winery website if you can’t find a bottle in your retail store.