Evaluation of Merlot and Malbec Clones

Five Merlot clones were compared for a second year. In 1996, clone 8 was the lowest yielding clone and clone 3 was the highest. Pruning wts. were the converse, with 3 being lowest and 8 being highest. Shoot numbers did not differ, indicating that average shoot wt was the critical factor. Clone 8 also had the lowest cluster wt and fewest berries per cluster. Cluster numbers did not differ in 1995 but in 1996 clone 8 had the lowest number while others did not differ. Clones 8 and 9 were higher in Brix than the other three clones, although TA did not differ. K+ levels tended to mirror pH values with higher K+ being associated with higher pH. With respect to wines, no significant differences were seen with regard to anthocyanins. Wine TA was lower for clone 8. Wine pH differences were similar to those for juice values. VA was well below threshold sensory values. Ethanol values were small, as predicted given the small Brix differences seen at harvest. Significant differences were seen in all co-pigmentation values including the amount of anthocyanin in copigment form, amount of free anthocyanin and amount of polymeric anthocyanin, with clone 8 being highest in copigment and free while being lowest in polymeric form. Malbec clones were not harvested in 1996. The rains and cool weather during bloom, as well as severe pruning designed to correct some training errors, resulted in disastrous fruitset. Only about 400 lbs of fruit were harvested from the entire 1.4 acres. Therefore, the data were meaningless. Initial observations in 1997 seem to mirror those in 1995 with clone 8 have the appearance of more and heavier clusters than that of clone 4 or 6.