Oregon

Vidon Vineyard: the Pinot Noir Clone Program

Winemaker David Bellows of Vidon Vineyard discusses the three clones of Pinot Noir that grow on the estate vineyard in Chehalem Mountains AVA, Oregon. Bellows discusses the unique character of each clone of Pinot Noir and what they bring to the ‘jazz trio.’

This is Episode #66 of Understanding Wine with Austin Beeman.

Hi. I'm David Bellows. I'm the winemaker at Vidon Vineyard.

I'm here today to talk a little bit about our clone program. So, we have three clones of pinot planted out in our vineyard. We have equal parts of 115, 777, and Pommard.

Vidon Vineyard Pinot Noir ‘Mirabelle 115’

Today, I'd like to talk to you about the 115 clone, that we call Mirabelle, after Dawn's eldest granddaughter. The 115 clone has a vibrant acidity, and it a distinctive vin cherry note. This lively acidity makes it an excellent food wine. And it acts like the percussionist in the trio, laying down the beat or the pulse.

If you prefer an acid-driven, food-friendly wine, perhaps the Mirabelle would be your favorite.

Vidon Vineyard Pinot Noir ‘Brigita 777’

Today I'd like to talk to you about the 777 clone, that we call Brigita, after Dawn's youngest granddaughter. The 777 clone is our warmest, softest, most aromatic clone. It's known for having spicy kind of exotic notes, like cardamon and clove. It acts sort of like the piano player in the trio, providing the melody, and the individual notes. So, if you are interested in a softer, more aromatic wine, perhaps the Brigita would be the one for you.

Vidon Vineyard Pinot Noir ‘Hans Pommard’

I'd like to talk to you about our Pommard clone, that we call Hans, after Dawn's grandson. The Pommard clone is our biggest most full-bodied wine, with layers of tannin providing structure. It acts like the bass player in the trio, laying down the deep foundation notes. So if you like a more mouth-filling, full-bodied wine, perhaps the Hans would suit you.

Vidon Vineyard Pinot Noir ‘Three Clones’

We've mixed them together to make a Cuvee, to make a blend. And that is our flagship wine, called Three Clones. It's equal parts of the three, and it acts like the jazz trio, piano, bass, and drums all playing together, each of the clones adding a bit to the wine. So, for example, the acidity from 115, and the body from Pommard, and the aromatics from the 777 clone all combine to make a greater whole.

Video: Cristom Vineyards - 2018 Vintage Harvest

In September of 2018, while enroute to the Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla, I found myself at Cristom Vineyards during harvest of their 2018 Vintage. The fruit was coming in from one of the estate vineyards that produces the delicious Mount Jefferson Cuvee Pinot Noir.  The harvest was bountiful, in fact, it was much more abundant than anyone was expecting.  With an intern down with a minor injury, I jumped on the sorting table to help out. 

I also had time to shoot a short video.  Enjoy.

For more great videos, check out the Understanding Wine with Austin Beeman podcast or my YouTube Channel

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Check out more great wine content below.

The 2008 Vintage for Oregon Pinot Noir. Interview with James Cahill of Soter Vineyards

I always strive to create wine content that is evergreen; not tied to any one specific vintage or wine.  But in the summer of 2010, the fine wine community was buzzing about the 2008 vintage in Oregon and people wanted to talk about it.  Unlike the 2008 vintage Pinot Noirs, my interview with James Cahill, winemaker of Soter Vineyards hasn't aged very well.  It's all out the quality of the 2008 Vintage in Oregon.

This is Episode #14 of Understanding Wine with Austin Beeman.  Enjoy.  Transcript is below the video.

Transcript:

I'm James Cahill and I am the winemaker for Soter Vineyards, Tony Soter's Oregon project. A certified sustainable winery producing an emphasis we'll say on estate grown and regional blends of Pinot Noir and a little bit of sparkling wine. It's just a silly habit of ours.

What we have in '08 is a long growing season and when we found ourselves in Oregon picking grapes in the middle of October, that means lots of things. Especially if we're picking at leisure like we were. It means that the grapes have been out for a good long while. They've enjoyed a good growing season.

If we're not in a hurry, it means it's been a moderate growth season, right? That there hasn't been heat and things that would force us to have to harvest because grapes are shriveling or something like that.

Of course, if we're harvesting leisurely it means it's under sunny skies. I think what we regionally look for in from '08's will be the precious and natural acidity that's found consistently in '08 Oregon Pinots. It's what our region does.

It's a beautiful level of ripeness. A complete level of ripeness without excess, right? So that the things we can do in our cool climate, which is capture fruit flavors with freshness and life rather than more confection or baked flavors are so clear and consistent I think in most quality levels as well.

Of course, the price of admission for a fine Pinot Noir is pretty steep right? You have to pay a few bucks to get a satisfying bottle of wine, but I think even on modest bottlings you'll find a good quality Pinot that will speak not just of Pinot, but of Oregon Pinot. Acidity, liveliness, structure. Again, with a thorough level of ripeness.

What is the aging potential of 2008 Oregon Pinot Noir?  And what Oregon vintage is most similar to 2008?

It's a great question. Of course the aging potential is always how you enjoy wine, right? I think what we always qualified is that the wines will get better, you know? I think that there's structure in the wine and enough depth and volume in the quality of fruit that they will age gracefully, and in balance, and that you will be rewarded by waiting both in the near term as the wine's relaxed. Waiting a year or so you'll be rewarded with a better picture of what the young wine is.

Then of course as it unfolds, in its old age I think one of the things we'll look for is that the wine's made mature like many other vintages at seven, eight, nine years old, but they'll probably hold for quite a long time where other wines may have less ability for a plateau.

2002 is a vintage we often look back on as controversial for some, but for many right-thinking folks in our region, I think 2002 is kind of a perfect year because there was good ripeness. There was not a lot of drama to harvest. The harvest conditions and the wines had muscle.

If people didn't go to far in terms of manipulations or excessive hang time. I mean, beautifully balanced wines that will age elegantly. '98 and '99, '99 would probably be more like '08 in that it was a miracle vintage at the time because we were harvesting well into October. A vintage that looked like it might be tough to get the grapes in, you know?

There were three challenging vintages in the 90's. '95/6/7 people were pretty gun shy that if you're waiting to October puts you at risk of course for the winter rains that are going to arrive. So yeah, I think referencing '02 and '99 might be benchmarks, but the level of ripeness in '08, while complete, the alcohol potentials might be a little lower perhaps than in other vintages.