by Fred McMillin
for June 3, 1998

A Colombard Wild Card


Prologue

As of 1996, French Colombard was California's most widely planted varietal. Because it is quite prone to rot and odium, almost all Colombard is planted in the dry Central Valley, not the smart Napa Valley.

...Oxford Companion to Wine

The Peju Province Winery makes a French Colombard called "Carnival" from grapes originally grown in their Napa Valley vineyard.

...Wine & Spirits Magazine


The Rest of the Story

So why on earth did Winemaker-Owner Tony Peju plant French Colombard on the famous Rutherford Bench in the central Napa Valley? Answer: He didn't! Twenty years ago he methodically studied all available vineyards in California. The best was the old 30-acre Stephanie Vineyard in Rutherford, which he and wife Herta bought. It was planted with two varietals, predictably Cabernet Sauvignon and unpredictably, French Colombard.

From them he makes a wine that I find a wonderful companion for the varied dishes in an Oriental meal...a sweet-tart wine to enjoy, for example, with sweet-sour seafood. My party preferred it to the more trendy off-dry Gewurztraminer, with its pronounced honeysuckle flavors.

The Wine

1996 French Colombard "Carnival"
Peju Province Winery, Rutherford, Napa Valley
Co-owners—Herta B. And Anthony Peju
Flavors—Flowers and spice and everything nice.
Body—Suprisingly substantial for a Colombard, thanks to enough sugar to match the high acids and a respectable 12.5% alcohol.
Price—$9.50 range


Postscript

While we've talked about the atypical Colombard, Cabernets have made the Peju reputation, particularly the H.B. Vineyard Cab, $55. We'll cover them next time.


About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


 


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