Sometimes we find hidden gems or one should say wine gems in our search for great wines. Attending a tasting of Jean-Luc Colombo’s Rhône wines did just that. It presented an opportunity to discover some excellent wines from Côtes du Rhônes and more specifically the northern Rhône appellation of Cornas, which is known for Syrah. These special wines symbolize what the wines of France are all about.
Jean-Luc Colombo started as a pharmacist but his love of food and wine prevailed, persuading him to turn his chemistry background in a different direction; that of wine consultant and winemaker.
Listening to Jean-Luc, one can easily see the passion he has for his wines. He is unrelenting with his purest views of the winemaking process and is quite adamant that a vineyard should not be irrigated because nature provides the water that is needed to nurture and grow the grapes. Grapevine roots can span deep into the soil to reach the water table in order to thrive.
Due to Jean-Luc’s love of nature and his concern about the reduction in the bee population, which is so vital to the pollination of our flowers and fruits, he donates a portion of the proceeds from certain wines to UC Davis Dept. of Honey Bee Research. In French Les Abeilles means the bees and the wines are aptly named for those creatures Jean-Luc wants to help. The wines are the citrusy 2012 ‘Les Abeilles” Côtes du Rhône Blanc, a blend of 80% Clairette and 20% Roussanne and the 2011 ‘Les Abeilles’ Côtes du Rhône Rouge, a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 20% Mourvédre that is very balanced with hints of berries.
Appropriately for this time of year, the nose on one of the first wines featured at this tasting had the aroma of autumn & harvest. One felt like autumn was in the air with leaves beginning to fall. The wine ‘Amour de Dieu’ Condrieu 2011, a Viognier not only displayed a fragrant bouquet but the wine was a richly balanced heavier bodied Viognier with notes of pear. It was a favorite at the tasting.
An exception value was the ‘La Violette’ 2011 Viognier that expressed flavors of honey and citrus.
Another favorite and a superb Rosé was the 2012 Cape Bleue Rosé, a blend of 67% Syrah and 33% Mourvédre. The wine featured a crisp fresh aroma and one found hints of rose and peaches. This wine is made in the traditional Provence style using the saignée method.
Moving to the reds:
‘Les Forots’ Côtes du Rhône 2010 exudes a fruity berry aroma. The flavors are that of raspberries with a little spice on the finish. What is interesting is 60% of this wine is aged in one to four year old barrels while the rest is aged in stainless steel.
The 2011 ‘Les Bartavelles’ Châteauneuf du Pape, a blend of 45% Syrah, 35% Grenache and 20% Mourvédre is a full-bodied wine that grows on you with each sip. The wine has hints of blueberry with a balanced spicy finish.
Finally sipping the 2010 ‘Le Ruchets” Cornas, the Syrah that is from Jean-Luc’s oldest vines. This more complex and balanced wine has notes of black fruit and vanilla. This wine signifies what the Cornas appellation and Jean-Luc Colombo winery is all about.
Like learning to paint or play an instrument, one must go back to the beginning by learning about the classics and study the old masters. The same is true of wine. To truly learn where our Rhone Rangers and their style of wine comes from, one must look to France and the French winemakers to understand the heritage behind the Rhône varietals. Embracing Jean-Luc Colombo’s wines accomplishes just that.
One can find Jean-Luc Colombo wines at BevMo.
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