Mission Codename Attack of the Clones
Who doesn’t like wine games? Let’s play clonal exploration! Imagine you are given the best possible Chardonnay vineyard in the Sonoma Coast AVA, at the heart of Los Carneros. That would be the historic Sangiacomo Vineyard. This quite vast stretch of some of the healthiest, prettiest grapes grown in all of Sonoma County has certain sectors within that are so famous that they go by their own names. Green Acres is the very best of these, and since its planting in 1969 it’s been highly sought-after by winemakers from all over, for the rarely seen clonal diversity (20+ clones in the same vineyard!) and the potential complexity this can bring to Chardonnays from here.
This Wine Spies Exclusive Trio is the ultimate expression of this prestigious vineyard, through 3 select clones, all identically vinified to allow for the clones to shine through with their individual personalities. When our tasting panel was tasked with the near-impossible mission to pick the best of these to feature, it hit us… It hit us hard - that they bring forth an inseparable experience to witness for yourselves, by enjoying these as a ‘horizontal’ flight side by side. Hours of gameplay, hours of talk and fun to be had, as each of you will have your own favorites, and as they evolve in the glass your favorites will change.
Let’s dive right in, shall we, and share some facts and OUR views on each, clone by clone, one at a time:
Heritage Block Old Wente – Planed in 1969 as the first block of Green Acres, these cuttings originate from the 1912 Wente vineyard in Livermore, a pioneering heritage for American Chardonnay through the collaboration of University of Montpellier, France and UC Davis, California. Today 80% of all Chardonnay planted in the US owe a genetic lineage to ‘Shot Wente’ or Old Wente, the truest form of which is characterized by shot berries that don’t all ripen together, giving wines layers of complexity and the perfect balance between freshness and richness. This wine offers superb minerality enveloped in almost candied exotic citrus notes.
Dijon Clone 809 – The Dijon clones are a much more recent import from France again, this time via Burgundy as evident by their name after the university town that is the birthplace of mustard. Distinctly aromatic and perfumed, borderline musky, it’s a musqué variant bringing forth floral blossom and sweet spice notes as evident with this wine. While it may work well with new oak, it performs best when newness is in moderation. It develops faster as confirmed by this example and tends to lean more towards stone and tropical fruits rather than citrus. The long finish leaves an appetizing impression of crème brûlée with candied ginger.
Catarina Clone 4 – Catarina Gardens is a stunning, landscaped garden with ornamental and edible plants, that pays tribute to a beautiful historic ranch that has sustained the Sangiacomo family for generations. It’s the northernmost extension of Green Acres, getting less of the San Pablo Bay’s cooling winds, longer hangtime, resulting in riper and richer wines. Clone 4 is ideal for this, propagated by UC Davis professor and viticulturist Dr. Olmo in the 1960s from Louis Martini selections grown in Carneros, as it produces smaller berries with thick skins, providing a signature mid-palate creaminess, along with ostentatious spiciness on the finish.
Saintsbury, the esteemed winery that brings us this opportunity, is second to none when it comes to translating single-vineyard excellence to outstanding wines. Since 1981 they have mastered crafting minimum intervention beauties from outstanding vineyards in Carneros such as Sangiacomo Green Acres. Not just one, but THREE bottles here dear Operatives, half-priced (with a complimentary educational vineyard tour) and as always with free shipping on 6 bottles, that is only 2 of these rare and limited packs qualify, only at The Wine Spies, only today, while supplies last…
Hypothetically speaking, when experienced as a horizontal tasting, but if you’re seriously interested, drop us a note and we’ll see what can be done!
Here’s what Wine Enthusiast has to say:
Heritage Block Old Wente - “Intense and high in acidity, this wine skirts the edge of ripeness in its salty, briny take on the variety, a nod to a historic clone. Floral, it persists in apple blossom and tart Meyer lemon, finishing crisp and fresh. ”
Dijon Clone 809 - “Golden hay in color, this clonal exploration imparts light-bodied peach, graham cracker, and orange flavors, the latter showing prominently on the nose. Bright acidity keeps it youthfully refreshing, with both body and weight in balance. ”
Catarina Clone 4 - “Floral and fleshy, this is a big-boned, concentrated wine. A ripe rendering of apple, pear, and peach is spiked in intriguing seasonings of lemongrass and nutmeg.”
What the Winery Says
2015 'Clonal Exploration Trio' Sangiacomo Green Acres Carneros Chardonnay 3 Pack
- Tim Colla
- 100% Chardonnay
- Los Carneros, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County
- 13.4 – 14.5%
- Old Wente, Dijon #809, Martini #4
- Sandy loam with alluvial deposits from Sonoma and Fowler creeks
- Harvest Dates
- August 26 – September 8
- 10 months
- 30% new French oak and puncheons, 6% 1-year old French Oak barrels & 64% neutral oak
- 1-3 barrels