Every year Millbrook Vineyards & Winery has a Grand Portfolio Tasting where they pull out all the stops and you get to taste wines from all their holdings throughout the world.  Yes, I said world!  Not only do they own Millbrook Vineyards & Winery in the Hudson Valley, but they own Williams Selyem Winery, Pebble Ridge & Vista Verde Vineyards all in California and Villa Pillo in Italy.

The wines with the Pebble Ridge label are all made by John.  They bring the grapes across country in refrigerated trucks to the Millbrook site where the winemaking begins.

This fall there was the option at Grand Portfolio Tasting to attended the “Passion for Pinot” which I jumped on.  What was really nice for me was to be able to taste the clones straight, without being blended to see what their true characters are.

Millbrook’s winemaker John Graziano led the seminar where he spoke about all the different clones, what is grown at Millbrook, the California Heritage clones and what climate change means for the region. Millbrook grows all Dijon Clones – 115, 667 & 777.

A little info on the clones grown at Millbrook and what they bring to the wine:

Clone 115 is a tight cluster grapes with a strong purplish color.  It has notable tannins and a consistent aromatic profile of black cherries, lether and roses, some anise, boysenberries and blueberries.  It is valued for its balance and aromatic profile.

Clone 667 is a big tight compact cluster with strong color, hi-tone and quality aromas.  You’ll find dark cherry, raspberry, strawberry, and spice with thick but soft tannins. In cooler climates or sites you will find hints of allspice, nutmeg and clove.

Clone 777 yields small compact clusters with small berries and intense color.  Very aromatic with complex black fruit flavors with hints of leather, tobacco and earthy notes.  It has the tannin structure to age.

We tasted 5 clones – Canada, Swan, Clone A, 667 and a mix of clones. Below are my short observations of the tasting.

Canada (A French clone” imported via Canada and Millbrook Winery.  Planted at John Dyson’s vineyards in the Russian River Valley and Vista Verde in the Central Coast)- Aromas of sour cherry and was tart
Swan (propagated by Joseph Swan in the Russian River Valley) – nose of chocolate, cocoa.  Tasted like unsweetened chocolate
Clone A – a little pine on the nose with raspberry and red berry.  Tasted like tart raspberry juice
Clone 667 – aromas of chocolate covered cherries and raspberry.  Palate was soft and full of raspberry with a chocolate finish.
Clone Mix I thought was tasteless.

Now it was time to taste the finish products.

2011 Millbrook NYS Pinot Noir- Made with Pommard, 115,667,777.  I found an earthy nose, with bright raspberry and some tea.   The palate was a bit acidic with raspberry and red fruit flavors and a hint of coffee on the finish.
2010 Millbrook Proprietor’s Special Reserve NYS Pinot Noir – Blend of Pommard, 1l5, 667,777.Aromas of mushroom and cran-raspberry leads to a palate of cranberry and a hint of mushroom.
2010 Millbrook Block Five East, Hudson River Region Pinot Noir -Blend of 1l15, 667,777 all from the Millbrook Vineyards.  A bit of mushroom and earth on the nose with a silky, sexy palate showing flavors of cran-raspberry and red fruits.
2010 Pebble Ridge Central Coast, CA Pinot Noir – Blended with clones Bruce, Pommard, Calera, 115, 667.  I found this wine woody with red fruit.  Very fruit driven.
2010 Millbrook Grand Reserve Pinot Noir, Central Coast, CA- Blended with Bruce, Pommard, Calera, 1l5 & 667 clones – Aromas of earth, raspberry and blackberry filled the glass.  The palate was filled with blackberry and black raspberry and a tart raspberry finish
2009 Williams Selyem Central Coast Pinot Noir – A blend of Pommard, Calera, Canada, 115, 777,828,943 clones.  Aromas of toasty oak, soft delicate red fruit, blackberry and some spice filled the glass.  The palate is intense with blackberry, cranberry and cherry with some wet tobacco notes on the finish.

When the class was over it was time to enter the Grand Portfolio Tasting where of course I got to taste a selection of Williams Selyem wines. I met some really nice people hanging at this table and was there for quite a while savoring the wine and chatting.

As most things are at Millbrook, it was a very well done event on a beautiful fall day.  Below you will find video from the Pinot Seminar.  Enjoy.

Passion for Pinotl – Part 1″The Clones”