Baby Boomer? You probably got your white wine initiation with French Colombard.
Colombard was most-planted white wine grape in California until 1991. Left Coast vintners claimed they valued colombard for its aromatics and ability to retain acidity in the face of Central Valley’s hot climate. Flavor notes usually include apples, pears, and crispness.
If wine-pressed, growers admit they really love colombard’s massive yields—12-plus tons per acre, three times more than most other grapes; some colombard-based offspring produce an amazing 26 tons per acre.
Today, chardonnay grows in many California vineyards where colombard once over-achieved, but given its massive yields colombard remains a stalwart of jug and boxed wines and as base wine for brandy—it is the lead grape in E&J Brandy and many other California, French, and South Africa brandies.
A wandering grape that flourishes until more elegant, more complex grapes take over the vineyard, colombard today is Israel’s most-planted white wine grape. In addition to making white wine, it is base wine for Israel’s most famous brandies: Carmel 100 and Jonathan Tishbi.
Colombard’s next frontier: Texas, where vineyard managers—surprise—value its ability to retain acidity and crispness in really hot climates. And, oh yes, its ability to produce 12-plus tons of grapes per acre.
You unlikely to find a colombard varietal section in a wine shop. But when you drink boxed wine or sip brandy, you can be pretty sure good old “French Colombard” from the trippy hippie days of distant memory is grooving in the blend.
• Little Black Dress Moscato. Flagrantly fruity; peach, melon; sweet diversion that will charm moscato lovers; well-made, valid value: $10
• Borsao Crianza Seleccioón. Cedar, black cherry/currant nose; good acidity, sharp red berries; spicy; long finish. Definitely decant this wine: $16
• Fiesta Winery Tempranillo NV. Quirky Texas creation; plum, cherry, smoke nose; earthy, tart cherry dominates medium body; non-standard, not bad: $24