The Clone Wars
As long as there have been good chardonnays there has been good debate around which clone of chardonnay is best.
One step back what is a clone you say! The term “grape clone” might bring to mind images of scientists hunched over petri dishes, but grape growers have selected and propagated their best vines for centuries. A grape clone is a cutting taken from an existing grapevine that’s grafted onto rootstock.
So here at Kokako, we have six different chardonnay clones planted, like children they all have different traits and personalities.
Clone15 is loved by most winemakers, smaller average bunch size, and a good mix of big berries and small berries, good acidity. Medium crop levels.
Clone95 for me it’s all about mouthfeel, that texture that makes a wine feel fulfilling. Also a good cropper, so bigger bunches more even berry size.
Clone Mendoza ah an old favourite and responsible for some of the great early chardonnay styles in Hawkes Bay, all material in NZ has a virus that makes for lower crop levels, definitely does not affect quality.
Clone1066 This guy will make you cry as a grower anyway, super small bunches made up of super small berries. Bunches weigh about 70grams compared to 110-120 grams say on Cl15. But wow does it have the X factor in the wine glass. Punchy flavours and aromas leap out of the glass.
Clone107 New kid on the block, Kokako is one of only a few growers with this chardonnay. Best of both worlds we feel. Big bunches! I mean big, double that of Cl15, great acidity, awesome mouth-filling sensation in the glass. Warn though, give in soil that is too strong and it will over the crop. We have it in our heavy gravels and it still sets amazing crop levels, ripens well, and has no green flavours at all.
Clone548 Is new-ish somewhat like Cl95 bunches, big and fuller but has more fruit flavour drive like Cl15, when the vines are young the first few vintages are fantastic, as it becomes a teenager it requires a tight belt on crop levels.
Clone MVGI 1 old school clone was once known as Aligote, often used for bubbly, we have just one row planted back in 2000. If it has a fault it would be that the bunches are tight and can rot if the weather turns.
No matter the clones they are all my passion.