2016 Meteor Vineyard Clone Project Cabernet Sauvignon Coombsville Napa
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Over the years we’ve seen the subtle differences of the 3 clones of Cabernet that we planted, whether the “heritage block” of Clone 7 on St George root stock that is our Special Family Reserve to the blend of all 3 clones that makes Meteor Perseid. When we sit down to blend we are keenly aware of the distinctive characteristics of each and the role each plays in the finished blend.
For the first time in our history, we’ve bottled a single barrel of each clone and packaged them as a set in our “Special Clone Project” three bottle box. Vinified with the same care and precision as all Meteor wines, this set showcases a uniqueness rarely seen in the wine world- clones that stand purely and deliciously on their own.
270 3pks Produced
One bottle each of Clone 4, Clone 7 & Clone 337
100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Aged 22 Months in French Oak
Clone 337 - Earliest ripening, deeply colored, berry, slight minty, high tone fruit, good tannins
Following the most recent phylloxera outbreak in CA, growers and winemakers undertook a global search to increase the choices in clonal material for high quality Cabernet Sauvignon available. The obvious place to look was Bordeaux, France whose ENTAV grape plant collection had been focusing on the subject for decades... clone 337 is one of several clones that were sent from ENTAV-INRA (now IFV) in France and is the official French clone 337. The plant material originally was sent from France to the Missouri State University quarantine facility in 1997. While not eligible for the California Registration & Certification Program at that time it was planted extensively in the Napa Valley where it became prized for wine quality. ENTAV distributed the clone to Sunridge Nurseries, who ultimately submitted it to Foundation Plant Services in 2009 for disease testing to qualify it for the California R&C Program. The selection underwent microshoot tip tissue culture therapy at FPS in 2009. Clone 337 successfully completed testing to qualify for the Russell Ranch Foundation Vineyard in 2013.
Clone 7 - Mid-late ripening, deeply colored, blue–red hue, full red berry fruit, anise, bright, good firm tannins
The Cabernet Sauvignon vine from which FPS 07, 08 and 11 were propagated most likely came to Concannon Vineyards from Bordeaux, France. The namesake and grandson of founder James Concannon is in possession of 1904 correspondence from a supplier in Royan, France, a port city located at the mouth of the Gironde Estuary north of the city of Bordeaux. The letter offers special prices to Concannon for grapevine cuttings including Cabernet Sauvignon, and mentions that Concannon would be well served to continue working with Charles Wetmore as agent for transmittal of the supplier’s plant material to the Concannon vineyard. (Concannon, 2008; Paul Gros Gendre & Co., 1904). Charles Wetmore imported wine grape varieties from Bordeaux to his Cresta Blanca vineyard in Livermore in the late 19th century, including Cabernet Sauvignon cuttings from Château Margaux. (Pinney, 1989; Wetmore, 1884). Wetmore supplied Cabernet Sauvignon cuttings to Concannon. (Wente, 2008). Whether the Cabernet Sauvignon provided to Concannon was propagated from the Cresta Blanca Château Margaux vines or was other French clonal material sent by the supplier is unclear. The Concannon Cabernet vines were not lost during Prohibition. Concannon Vineyards was able to survive the Prohibition era because Concannon was active in preparing altar wines. The University of California became interested in Concannon clonal material in the 1960’s. In 1965, Curtis Alley, manager of Foundation Plant Services (then known as Foundation Plant Materials Service), harvested cuttings from vine 2 in row 34 of the Concannon Cabernet Sauvignon block. He brought the cuttings to FPS for virus testing and heat therapy treatment. Plants from those cuttings underwent heat treatment for varying lengths of time and received different selection numbers, even though harvested from a single vine source. Cabernet Sauvignon FPS 07 underwent heat treatment for 62 days. Alley initially assigned #101 to the selection, but it was later renamed FPS 07. The selection was planted in the foundation block in June 1967 and first appeared on the list of registered vines in the R&C Program in 1970.
Clone 4 Late ripening, deeply colored, dark berries, plums, chocolate, savory, most tannic
Plant material began to move from Europe to the Americas in the 16th century, when commercial vineyards were first established in Mendoza, Argentina’s most important wine-growing province. (Robinson, 2006). Two Cabernet Sauvignon selections—Cabernet Sauvignon FPS 04 and 05—were imported to Davis in 1964 from Mendoza. According to FPS Director Deborah Golino, Austin Goheen arranged the importation because he believed that grape plant material obtained from South America was less likely to be infected with virus. (Golino, 2008). Cabernet Sauvignon FPS 04 and 05 arrived labelled incorrectly as “Merlot clones 11 and 12.” No disease elimination treatment was required for either selection. They were later properly identified and appeared for the first time in 1966 on the list of registered vines in the California Grapevine Registration & Certification (R&C) Program.
FROM VINEYARD MANAGER MIKE WOLF
2016 marked the end of a string of very dry winters, with over 35 inches of rainfall. Early season weather was very moderate, encouraging good even canopy development, while ample late rains and mild temperatures reduced irrigation needs, and allowed for slow, even development of the fruit. Both the vines and fruit at Meteor were in good condition to handle the warm weather that occurred during the last week of July and for a few days in early September. Harvest occurred between 9/19 and 9/22, avoiding what was in many cases a third, and damaging heat wave. All harvesting was done at night, resulting in the fruit arriving at the winery at dawn in great condition. Yields of around 3 tons per acre were in line with historical averages. The 2016 Perseid will be remembered as the 5th in a string of remarkable vintages for Meteor.
WHAT ARE CLONES?
Within a single grape variety, there is a rich variation of subtle genetic difference manifested by their growth habits and grape berry character. Examples of this include the tri-colored berries of the Pinot family (Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris) and the occasional muscat-flavored berries found in some Chardonnay vines. From the earliest beginning of grape growing, people have been selecting the wood from their best vines when planting new ones. In modern times, concerns about grapevine health, in addition to fruit quality, have led to a process called clonal selection. In viticulture, a clone is a population of vines derived by vegetative propogation from a single vine, called a mother vine. All vines grown from cuttings or buds of this vine are genetically identical. Future generations will remain identical unless a spontaneous mutation occurs, creating a bud with an altered genetic makeup. Clonal selection began in Germany in 1926 and now takes place in most grape growing countries in order to supply growers with the best possible planting material. In France today, 80% of new vineyards are planted with clonal selections of both rootstocks and scions. Each of these clonal selections has undergone at least 15 years of field testing before being assigned the number which will identify it in commerce. Because complexity is such an important component of wine quality, growers should plant their fields with a number of different clones and their own clonal selections. Furthermore, the use of clonal material in no way obscures the important influence of “terroir” which is the basis of wine style diversity within every region.
From - A Concise Guide to Wine Grape Clones for Professionals, John Caldwell, 1996