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About French Clones

There are 46 clones in France, the origin of Pinot noir.  Its finest wine comes from Burgundy whose clones are chosen for quality.  The Champagne clones are chosen for production and used for sparkling wine.  The first clonal selection was done by Raymond Bernard from Dijon in the 1950’s as was Chardonnay.


bullet Origin

bullet Native of Bourgogne.
bullet Many different phenotypes.
bullet 23,000 hectares planted in France, 1994.
bullet Ampelography

bullet Density of prostrate hairs at the tip of the young shoot: medium to dense.
bullet Green or yellow young leaves.
bullet Shoots with red stripes on internodes.
bullet Mature leaves:

bullet dark green or very dark green mature leaves undivided with three to five lobes
bullet slightly open or closed petiolar sinus
bullet opposite “Cock comb” shaped lobes toward the lower side
bullet short teeth
bullet rolled and strongly blistered blade
bullet sparse
bullet Roundish or slightly elliptic berries
bullet Phenology

bullet Time of bud burst: 2 days after Chasselas B (March 21).
bullet Time of maturity: 3-7 days after Chasselas B (August 14).
bullet Agronomic Behavior

bullet Particularly suited to temperate areas.  Under southern climates, it is sensitive to sunburn, maturation is fast and berries often become withered.
bullet Generally tied up.
bullet Best results in clayey-calcareous soils when vigor and yield are controlled.
bullet Emits much second crop fruit.
bullet Careful de-suckering is required.
bullet Diseases, Insects & Mites Susceptibility

bullet Delicate and sensitive to primary diseases.
bullet Particularly sensitive to:

bullet downy mildew
bullet gray rot
bullet grape leaf hoppers
bullet rot Brenner
bullet Technological Potential

bullet Clusters and berries are:

bullet very small: <100 gram clusters; <1.5 gram berries, to
bullet small: 100-200 gram clusters; 1.5-2 gram berries
bullet With favorable conditions, wines have long keeping qualities with strength, finesse, intensity and aromatic complexity.
bullet Must sugar content is high.
bullet Acidity is hardly medium.
bullet Color is weakly intense, but usually lasting.
bullet Also used for sparkling wines.
bullet Clonal Selection

bullet 50 clones have been certified.
bullet 15 are significantly propagated.
bullet Predominantly from the following regions:

bullet Bourgogne
bullet Champagne
bullet Jura

Clones of Interest

These have the highest ratings and produce elegant, full bodied, complex wines:



114 ripening precocious; high quality; interesting for blending;
sometimes irregular production; typical wines with aromas
and tannins
x x
115 regular yields; complex and powerful wines; wines very
typical, rich and bodied
667 medium production: very high quality in Burgundy; intense
color and well structured; requires aging; fine and aromatic
wines with tannins and keeping qualities
777 very good quality; high color and tannin; good keeping
qualities; complete and very typical wines; very adaptable to all situations
x x

These have medium ratings and are more productive.  They make a good base wine, but should not exceed 25% of total planting:



113 produces very aromatic wine; cane pruning; sometimes irregular production; balanced but light wines   x
292 sparkling wine clone; good quality when production is controlled; bodied wines–does not improve with sparkling wines elaboration   x
375 superior production; balanced, supple but fairly typical wines; does not age well   x
386 better for sparkling wines; productive; fleshy berries; light and fruity; improves with sparkling wines elaboration    
459 superior yields; good quality (in some years with low yields, it rates in the highest group); balanced wines with tannins    x

A: This combination is recommended for long aging wines.
B: This combination is best for younger wines that are more acidic and aromatic.


The information on this page is adapted from

bullet “A Concise Guide to Wine Grape Clones for Professionals”, Second Edition, by John Caldwell Viticultural Services, June 1998.
bullet “Catalogue of Selected Wine Grape Varieties and Clones Cultivated in France”, by Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Ctps, Entav-Inra-Ensam-Onivins, 1997.


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