Jean-Luc Colombo: Quality Wines from a Quality Person
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Jean-Luc Colombo: Quality Wines from a Quality Person

There seems to be a recurring theme when I drink wines that I really enjoy, that sometimes make me stop in wonder.  A wine, that at first sip takes you somewhere and resonates with you in a way that cannot be explained.  This is the experience I had last year,  when I first tasted a Côtes de Rhône from winemaker Jean-Luc Colombo. To have the opportunity and meet him some months later, was quite incredible.  As he spoke, his smile, kind eyes and demeanour displayed nothing but pure passion and love for his work. Recently, Agency LCC Vins et Spiritueux was generous enough to invite me to a tasting with Jean-Luc Colombo at Ferreira Café here in Montreal.

Jean-Luc Colombo started making wine in the 1986, when he purchased 246 acres of old vines in Cornas.  He was considered a bit of a rebel at the time because he was doing things differently than his old-fashioned counterparts. Throwing no caution to the wind, he along with his wife Anne,  carefully tended to vineyards, grew beautifully ripe fruit, and kept an impeccably clean cellar. (Very important, according to Jean-Luc.)   They gained much success by producing high quality wines with excellent depth, richness, character and complexity.


Today, the couple are making wines which are expressive of terroir, paying deep care and attention to the environment on which these vines grow.  They do not use pesticides in their vineyards, encourage biodiversity, and since 2012, has been taking the steps towards being certified organic.  Only the best fruit gets into their top tier wine.  They own 30 hectares in their vineyards in Northern Rhône, and another 20 hectares on the Blue Coast.  In 1996, he acquired land on the Blue Coast near Marseille, not far from where he grew up.  It is here that he produces the absolutely gorgeous and quaffable Cape Bleue Rosé.  (With a blend of Syrah, Cinsault and Mourvèdre, this wine was one of my favourite’s at the tasting.) The remainder of their fruit is sourced from grower’s in which they have close relationship.

Jean-Luc is has strict opinion when it comes to irrigation:  it should not happen. He believes the vines struggle and search for water adds complexity to the wine.  “Wines from year to year should not taste the same.  Of course, we want to make the best fruit, the best wine…and constantly improve….but the weather, it is never the same from one year to the next.  Therefore, the fruit will not be the same. How can we appreciate or understand vintage variation, if there is no discrepancy in the wine.  A good winemaker should be able to make great wine, even in the worst of vintages.”

The definition of incredible wine is really quite simple; it’s a wine that gives us pleasure and satisfaction when we drink it; a wine that moves us in some way.  I can say with complete content that the wines of Jean-Luc Colombo will most certainly be making me very happy for some time to come.  Special thank you to Jean-Luc Colombo for his incredible generosity and conversation, and also LCC Vins et Spiriteux for this outstanding opportunity and tasting.

All of the following wines are available, or shortly available at the SAQ. Keep an eye out.

Tasting Notes

Côtes de Rhône La Redonne 2016

SAQ: 10783951  $25.55

This lovely white is a blend of Viognier (70%) and Rousanne (30%), coming from gravel soils.  The palate is round and refreshing with crisp citrus and apricot fruit with a nice tinge of honey and pistachio.  The finish has bright, crisp fruit with bits of salty minerality.  Very approachable and fruit driven wine. Drink now or in the next 2-3 years.  This would pair this with a crispy fried tilapia on a bed of ginger infused rice and warm soft tortilla.

St-Péray La Belle de Mai 2016

Available soon at the SAQ  $52.75

This wine is a blend of 60% Rousanne and 40% Marsanne.  Fragrant, fresh and pure this excellent white is showing notes of intense citrus, peach and honey.  The flavours are layered, and the acidity is super fresh balancing the concentrated fruit and creamy that comes through.  As the wine finishes, the soft palate has notes of stony minerality and zesty fruit.  Drink now or in the next 5-6 years.  This would incredible with Saffron Shrimp Pappardelle.

Cape Bleue Rosé 2016

SAQ: 12219309  $17.55

This rosé so fruity, so refreshing and easy drinking….it will not last long on your table. Strawberries, raspberries, and peach over salty mineral notes and flowers…only to start right back at strawberries again. The refreshing acidity if perfectly balanced with the crunchy red fruit and that hit of salinity just makes it so quaffable! Available at the SAQ Depot, because you will need to buy a case of this anyway…  Drink now.  This would be well matched with Atlantic Crab rolls with bacon and tarragon mayonnaise.

St-Péray La Belle de Mai 2016

Available soon at the SAQ  $52.75

This wine is a blend of 60% Rousanne and 40% Marsanne.  Fragrant, fresh and pure this excellent white is showing notes of intense citrus, peach and honey.  The flavours are layered, and the acidity is super fresh balancing the concentrated fruit and creamy that comes through.  As the wine finishes, the soft palate has notes of stony minerality and zesty fruit.  Drink now or in the next 5-6 years.  This would incredible with Saffron Shrimp Pappardelle.

Côte de Rhône Les Forots 2015

Available soon at the SAQ $25.55

With a blend of Grenache and Syrah, this is fragrant and approachable wine with notes of dense blackberries, plums and bits of earth and minerality.  The is supple tannins, and balanced acidity make this a structured and classy wine.  Lovely freshness, pure fruit, great length.  Amazing value at under $30.  Drink now it in the next 4-5 years.  This wine is screaming for braised rabbit and roasted vegetables.

Cornas Les Ruchets 2015

SAQ: 12188274 $107.50

Youthful and concentrated cherry and blackberry and fruit with spice, earth and violet undertones.  There is a depth of fruit, each showing itself bit by bit, balanced with very good acidity and youthful, firm tannins.  The concentrated palate has incredible purity where the finish is quite long and ends on a lovely mineral, slatey touch.  It is a powerful and elegant wine, but it needs some time to develop.  Because I am impatient, would wait 5-6 years to open this, but another 12-15 years in the cellar would be prime. A special wine deserves a special meal, and when you are ready open this wine, have a Beef Wellington filled with mushrooms and a touch of truffle oil. Recipe from:

Saint Joseph Les Lauves 2016

SAQ: 13466555 $31.00

100% Syrah, this wine displays notes of juicy layered fruit like blackberries, plums and dark cherries. The warm spice and Mediterranean herbs is showing nicely as does the refreshing acidity.  Tannins are medium grained, still youthful, adding texture and depth.  The wine is lifted a bit with some notes of violet adding even more complexity.  This is an incredible wine that needs just a bit more time to soften up in the cellar, maybe 2-3 years…but this can easily age another 8-10 years if your patience allows. Beautiful wine!  A great food pairing would be a roasted leg of lamb with dried cherry sauce.  Here is a recipe I often use, and it is mouth watering:
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