“There are few more civilized pleasures in life than good company, good food and good wine.” — Joe Swan
Swan is a Heritage clone, named for Joseph Swan, a pioneer of Pinot Noir in Sonoma County during the late 1960’s and 70’s.
Swan’s vineyard near Forestville on Laguna Road, originally planted to Zinfandel, was budded over to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on the advice of his friend and mentor André Tchelistcheff. It performed well from the get-go. Neighbors in the Russian River Valley were fast to “borrow” clippings and plant “Swan” in their own vineyards. In 1974, Francis Mahoney and Curtis Alley gathered budwood from Swan and performed trials at Carneros Creek with other American-bred clonal selections. In 1996, Mahoney gave the five best cuttings, called Heritage clones, to FPMS and the one from Swan was named UCD97 (aka FPS97).
The provenance is less clear, however. Swan never kept any written records, but Mahoney did, and he traced the cuttings from an experimental vineyard in Oakville in 1959 to Martin Ray, who allegedly brought them down from Mount Eden from the “old” Paul Masson vineyards, whereby they initially came over from Romanée Conti. No one will ever know for sure, but it makes a good story, and one cannot argue that the Swan clone is a solid choice for cool-climate appellations. It is known to produce bright and rich Pinot Noir, lighter in color than many other clones, with intense aromatics and an elegant, earthy character.
The Swan clone from Old Road #3 Vineyard was picked in early September, and the lot was partially whole-cluster fermented (roughly 25%) and cold-soaked with hand punch-downs for 48 hours. It was sent to age in neutral French oak and bottled in January 2015.
Tasted in February 2016: Anise, cola, red cherry. Clean and pretty. Lots of fruit, but not jammy. Forward and intese aromas. Bright acidity. A little potpourri, early strawberries. Zingy.