9/21/2012 11:05:00 AM Wine Review: Noble Vines clones grapes to great effect
Bennet Bodenstein Wine Columnist
With our constant complaining about the quality and types of labels consumers are exposed to, we now report that wine labeling has hit a new plateau - labeling the bottle with the identification number of the specific grape clones used to make the wine, along with the name of the variety.
Never in all of our years of writing about wines have we ever seen the name of the clones prominently listed on the label. Noble Vines Wine has changed all of that.
The practice is contrary to the custom used in France, where the name of the producing chateau is on the label, forcing one to go to the Internet to find out exactly what variety they are drinking, and even then, likely not finding information about the grape clones used.
Noble Vines 337 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon ($14.99) The clone of a grape variety may display slightly different characteristics than other grapes of the same variety. Some of these clones prove to have more desirable winemaking characteristics than others.
In this case, clone 337 produces grapes that are smaller than average but have a more concentrated flavor to contribute to the wine.
Flavor is the key word here. This wine displays its flavor right up front. It is so big, it’s almost overpowering.
Black cherry and blackberry dominate the flavor with cassis bringing up the rear. There are the under-flavors of pepper, cedar, oak and vanilla lying in the background and adding extra layers of complexity to this wine. What is noticeable is that the tannins and fruit acid are in almost perfect balance, and the finish is also fruity and long.
If you like cabs and are not bound by tradition or snobbery, try this wine for a new and delightful wine drinking experience.
Noble Vines 446 2011 Chardonnay ($12.99) The numbering system for this wine is slightly different than that of the cab, but the reason is the same - the concentration of flavor.
The grape is clone 4, which was developed in Napa Valley and grown in Noble Vines' vineyard block 46, thus the number.
This is not one of those wimpy chards that fall apart after the first glass.
The Noble Vines 446 2011 Chardonnay displays an inviting golden color supported by a medium body. The aroma presents green apples, apricots and pineapple, while the flavor concentrates on peach and vanilla and ends in a creamy splash of oak.
This is not a run-of-the-mill chardonnay, but rather a really fine wine at a really fine price.
Noble Vines 667 2010 Pinot Noir ($14.99) All pinot noirs are basically similar, but like any fine painting, it is how the paint is put on the canvas that makes the difference between a masterpiece and the commonplace.
The Noble Vines 667 2010 Pinot Noir, like a great painting, reflects the best that can be coaxed out of the grape by dedicated vintners. The 667 clone was chosen because its growing conditions are great for this style of wine.
It is the flavor and aroma of cherries that permeates this wine, along with oak and vanilla in the background to add to the complexity - which is wrapped in an unforgettable velvet-like softness.
This wine is a fine example of the variety and proof of why we like the 667 clone so much.
Noble Vines 2010 181 Merlot ($12.99) Merlot clone 181 is a French Bordeaux vine that found a new home in Lodi, Calif., where it thrives.
This, too, is a clone that produces intensely flavored grapes and passes that intensity on to the wine.
The color is a brilliant amethyst, and the aroma showcases cherry, blackberry and blueberries. The flavor offers cherry and plum with a hint of vanilla and oak and an equally enjoyable finish.
This wine will delight the palates of even the most critical of connoisseurs.