Federal Wine & Spirits

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The best clone for Cabernet Sauvignon?

2019 Marietta Cabernet Sauvignon Game Trail Clone 6
August 22, 2023


Gueguen Bourgogne Rose

In the 1970s and 80s, Anthony Bell directed the winemaking of Beaulieu Vineyard's iconic George de la Tour Private Reserve Cabernet, then one of Napa's best. He had discovered a single scraggly vine that he dubbed Clone 6. Very yielding and hard to grow, this vine was recognized as quintessential Cabernet Sauvignon. Its wine was concentrated pure, the essence of Cabernet's classic graphite and nut.


In 1990 Bell started his winery with one vineyard dedicated to that clone. In the early 00s, it became Bell Cellar's pride, deservedly so. We found it stood out for me and others in Cabernet blind tastings. 


Bell Cellars continues to produce a clone 6. It and Beaulieu's version now command $150 to $200 a bottle. 


I was excited to taste a new rendition of Close 6. Marietta Cellars is better known for its rough and ready Old Vine Red, but its Game Trail Vineyard Clone 6 is sleek, smooth, and pure with Clone 6 concentrated character. 


To be clear, its style differs from Napa's. Game Trail Vineyard is 1400 feet high in Mendocino's Yorkville Highlands. Exposed to the cool winds off the Pacific, its wine is sleeker with the purity and poise of a riper of Cabernet from France's Loire Valley.


Game Trail Cabernet is a wine of contemplation rather than excess. It delighted me with its just-so poise and balance.


The good news is that its price is a more moderate $49. The bad news is that we were only able to get 48 bottles. I look forward to future releases.


2019 Marietta Cabernet Sauvignon Game Trail Clone 6 Color: very dark black in tense; Aroma: reserved herbal; Mouth: bright, intense berry firm, tight, clean herbal, fine tannins, clean tight; Excellent


Erin Books, Wine Advocate "Medium ruby-purple, the 2019 Game Trail Cabernet Sauvignon features scents of blackcurrant and blackcurrant bud, chocolate, star anise, iron and violet. Powerful yet fresh, the full-bodied palate has loads of grainy tannins and bright sparks of acidity highlighting its floral perfume. It has mineral-streaked fruits and a long, layered finish with singular wafts of incense." 


$49, case of 6, $239.70, ($39.95)\

In stock


Len Rothenberg


Order by phone at 617.367.8605, or reserve here: order@federalwine.com


Please pass this on to any friends who are wine enthusiasts!


           - Len Rothenberg



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