In short, a clone is a propagation of a single “parent” plant. When a bud from this plant is cut and planted, its offspring will be genetically identical to the parent plant. For a variety of reasons (say, resistance to fungus, desired aroma or flavor, or particular cluster size), winegrowers use clones to yield fruit that is more specialized in its expressed traits.
There are more clones of Pinot Noir than any other wine grape in the world—well over 200 total, with 50 officially certified. Though much debate exists over which clones produce the most well-rounded Pinot, old clones such as 113, 114, and 115 are widely celebrated for their concentrated dark fruit flavors, balanced tannic structure, and rich bouquet. Though notoriously finicky, these “Dijon clones” (dubbed for their French origins) yield exceptional fruit, given optimal soil type, climate, and care.
But clone 114 is unique: robust and full-bodied, it boasts the deepest, most intense flavors of the “teen clones” (such as 113 or 115) and typically exhibits smaller, darker clusters. Clone 113, in contrast, is bright and crisp, with a sharper mouthfeel than its counterparts; meanwhile, 115 offers the most balance, but is less expressive than 114.
While clonal selection is hardly an exact science, choosing the right clone for a given microclimate, terroir, or vineyard site demands plenty of back-pocket knowledge on the part of the winemaker—and a bit of partiality, too. Ryan Carr, owner and winemaker at Carr Vineyards and Winery, notes, “The 114 clone has become one of my favorites over the years. It ripens after 113, but before 115, and produces some of the deepest, most richly-flavored Pinot Noir.”
— Brenna Ritchey