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by Fred McMillin
for June 3, 1998
A Colombard Wild Card
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
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.
1996 French Colombard "Carnival"
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.
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