Friday, March 30, 2018

Jean-Luc Colombo, Cornas, Rhône Valley, Presented his Portfolio at the French Embassy in Washington DC, USA

Pictures: Jean-Luc Colombo, Cornas, Rhône Valley, Presented his Portfolio at at the French Embassy in Washington DC

Jean-Luc Colombo was in town (Washington DC) and I had the chance to participate in a tasting with Jean-Luc at the French Embassy in Washington DC, at the invitation of Patrick Lachaussée, Premier Councel.

Following the tasting, there was a Gala Dinner at the French Embassy - Goût de France/ Good France - with 220 guests. The dinner was prepared by 13 Washington DC star chefs. Goût de France/Good France is an annual fund-raising event organized by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and held worldwide to celebrate French gourmet cooking.

Jean Luc Colombo was the guest of honor at the 2018 Washington DC Goût de France/ Good France dinner.

Picture: Invitation

Dear All,

I would like to share with you this invitation to participate in an exceptional and exclusive wine tasting of some fine vintages from the Rhone Valley, in the presence of the world-acclaimed winemaker, Jean-Luc Colombo.

Jean-Luc Colombo is a man of warmth, energy, and passion with an insatiable appetite for the good things in life. His dedication to fine food and wine took root early and came from his mother, a talented chef in Marseille. The long and joyful hours spent as a small boy assisting her in the kitchen later made him an excellent cook too. Jean-Luc’s subsequent decision to graduate as an oenologist and create wines which would match his mother’s cuisine was inevitable!

With his wife Anne, also an oenologist, he created the “Centre of Oenology of Côtes du Rhône” in Cornas in 1984, and has ever since been a consulting winemaker for some of the best “Domaines” in the Rhône Valley, Provence and Bordeaux.

Jean-Luc’s fulfillment of a childhood dream came with the purchase of his first vineyard, a small plot of old vines planted on a granite hillside overlooking the village of Cornas. The 1987 release of Jean-Luc’s first vintage of Cornas “Les Ruchets” was a great success and became the first in a long series of vintages of what is universally regarded as Colombo’s iconic wine. Throughout the years following his rise, Jean-Luc has remained true to his passion for winemaking and constant to his guiding principle, that is respect for nature and the unique qualities of each and every terroir.

As world-acclaimed winemaker, Jean-Luc is also well-known for his conviviality, generosity and to ably defend the rich cultural heritage of French gastronomy. Jean-Luc and Anne have given their love for good food and good wine to their daughter Laure who Joined the family domaine in 2010. Laure serves as viticulturist, oenologist and world traveler. She is full of life and brings delicacy, sensitivity, freshness and authenticity !

We are looking forward to seeing you as this exceptional and exclusive wine tasting.

Pictures: Christian Schiller and Jean-Luc Colombo at the French Embassy in Washington DC

Palm Bay International/ Jean-Luc Colombo 

The wines of Jean-Luc Colombo are imported into the USA by Palm Bay International.

Palm Bay International: What happens when you combine a creative, adventurous spirit with an unbridled passion for wines of quality and character? For lovers of fine wines from France's Rhône Valley, the answer is simple: Jean-Luc Colombo.

1984: A devotee of the Syrah grape, Jean-Luc was convinced that the northern Rhône appellation of Cornas offered enormous potential for producing stellar quality Syrah. Following his conviction, he opened his own wine laboratory in Cornas and developed a thriving reputation as a wine consultant, breathing new life into the then-obscure wines of Cornas.

JLC Vineyard: Shortly after, Colombo began purchasing his own vineyards first in Cornas then throughout the Rhône Valley and Languedoc - leading to the establishment in 1994 of Vins Jean-Luc Colombo. In 2003, Colombo enhanced his ventures by returning to his roots near Marseille and purchasing vineyards to produce the now highly-successful Cape Bleue Rosé.

Jean-Luc Colombo is one of the most progressive and influential winemakers of his generation and is nicknamed “The Winemaking Wizard of the Rhone.”

Based in The Rhône Valley: In addition to running Vins Jean-Luc Colombo, Colombo continues his consulting practice, advising approximately 100 producers throughout the Rhône Valley, Switzerland and southern France. His wife, Anne, who is closely involved in the production of the Cornas wines, manages the consulting practice.

In 2010, Laure Colombo, Anne and Jean-Luc's daughter, joined the family business. An avid world traveler, Laure studied viticulture in Bordeaux and also holds a Masters degree in Oenology from Montpellier University. She now works alongside her parents and is already making a name for herself as one of the Rhône's rising stars.

"Jean-Luc Colombo has become one of the stars of Cornas. Well-known as an oenologist for dozens of Rhone Valley clients, Colombo has had a positive influence in the Rhone, undoubtedly improving the quality of many estate's wines. As for his own wines, there are usually three cuvees of Cornas. In ascending order of quality they are: Les Terres Brulees, Les Ruchets (from a specific vineyard), and La Louvee (formerly known as cuvee JLC) ." (Wine Advocate)

"One of the most influential figure in Rhone wine making in the last 20 years has been the Bordeaux-trained enologue Jean Luc Colombo, who advises many a grower on his wine making and has built up his own Estate at Cornas. Colombo's wines demonstrated what he preaches: they are impeccably vinified, richly fruity and heavily oaked wines without rough edges." (James Turnbull)

"Top 100 Wineries of the Year 2008" (Wine & Spirits Magazine)

"A Cornas wine comparable to the best grand crus" (Le Monde)

"Jean-Luc Colombo shakes up the Rhone Valley. A Cornas wine which is among the best wines." (Le Figaro)

"With his eloquence, his appetite for life, and his incredible ability to realize countless ideas, Jean-Luc Colombo is one of the most endearing characters of the French wineries" (Bettane et Dessauve)

Pictures: Christian Schiller and Jean-Luc Colombo at the French Embassy in Washington DC

Wine Spectator/ Winemaker Talk: Jean-Luc Colombo
Posted: April 26, 2007

Wine Spectator: Winemaker Jean-Luc Colombo, 50, jokes that he's a bit of a Rhône outcast since he relies on modern techniques in one of France's most traditional wine regions. At the same time, it's hard to imagine where the Rhône would be without him, since Colombo was among the first to travel outside the area and not only aggressively market his own wines, but also tell the story of the entire region. Colombo grew up in a family of cooks, so he knew about food and wine early on, but at first he chose to be a pharmacist instead. It was a short-lived career move; he purchased his parcels of vines in the 247-acre Cornas region in 1986. From that humble start, he now makes his small-production, sought-after Cornas cuvées (Terres Brûlées, Les Ruchets and La Louvée), as well as a range of other wines, mostly from purchased grapes, reaching all the way down the valley to a $9 Côtes du Rhône.

Colombo has even begun to make wines from the Côte Bleue, near Marseilles, from old and neglected vines he found in a national park. The project is near to his heart since it brings him back closer to where he grew up. In addition, Colombo remains in high demand as a consultant, in and out of the Rhône Valley. But wherever he works, his focus remains squarely on making wines that work well with food. He took a quick break between tastings and consulting appointments to talk about his inspirations and his own influence on Rhône winemaking.

Pictures: Maps of the Rhône Valley, the Northern Rhône Valley and Cornas

Wine Spectator: How did you first get interested in winemaking?

Jean-Luc Colombo: I was first interested in the taste of wine. My mother was a chef--I grew up in a kitchen environment, with a grandmother and a mother who were great promoters of the culinary tradition of Marseille. Not all winemakers have a passion for food, but because everyone in the family was a chef, all we talked about was food. Then, I really discovered enology during my pharmaceutical studies. I got a pharmacy license, and decided to open a lab. The lab was [similar] to winemaking.

WS: What makes Cornas so different from the rest of the Rhône Valley?

JLC: Cornas is part of the Northern Rhône hillsides, which is where Syrah comes from, and where Syrah gives its greatest expression. At the same time, the hills of Cornas benefit from Mediterranean influences, which bring a lot of character to the wine.

WS: And your wines from Côte Bleue?

JLC: That's very different from Cornas. Cornas is the best landscape and soils for Syrah--it's very porous. So we can have a good Syrah with a lot of aromas of flowers like lilac and iris. With the fruit it's black currant or licorice. But the Côte Bleue is more for Mourvèdre and Syrah because the land is chalk. It's also a peninsula--almost like an island. You have the huge Lake of Berre, maybe a 30-mile circle, and then south is the sea. It's almost like Long Island. When you're there it's always cool. Not cold, not hot. So the Côte Bleue is a very good terroir to grow Syrah and Mourvèdre. The taste of the grape is never too mature--it's always 13.5 percent alcohol. We never get 15 percent. There is no residual sugar, and we don't use irrigation, because we have the humidity on the leaves.

WS: You've joked sometimes that you're the most hated and loved winemaker in the Rhône. Why?

JLC: Well, when I arrived in the Northern Rhône, techniques were very old-fashioned, and I shook some habits (I use new oak, destemming, green harvest). Obviously, this did not please a few narrow-minded winemakers. Conversely, I did get credit because I contributed to improving today's wine quality and also because I myself invested a great deal to promote the wines of the area.

WS: Who have been some of your greatest influences?

JLC: When I discovered enology I read Le Gout du Vin, by the great Bordeaux enologist Emile Peynaud. In the early years of my career, I also got to meet Michel Rolland, who showed me the importance of the role of the consultant, when most enologists were only interested in analysis.

Pictures: Jean-Luc Colombo, Patrick Lachaussée, Premier Councel at the French Embassy in Washington DC, and the Goût de France Washington DC Star Chefs Bertrand Chemel – 2941; Mark Courseille – Café Descartes; Alvin Dela Cruz – Westend Bistro; Xavier Deshayes – Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center; Mark Furstenberg – Bread Furst; Sébastien Giannini – St. Régis Hotel; Jon Krinn – Clarity; Frederic Loraschi – Frederic Loraschi Chocolate; Cédric Maupillier – Convivial; Claudio Pirollo – Et Voilà!; Nicholas Stefanelli – Masseria; Robert Wiedmaier – Marcel's, Brasserie Beck, Siren

WS: What would you say is the main difference between someone like you and Rolland?

JLC: We share common ideas, but we have always worked in different wine regions, either different by size or notoriety. I'm very close to the thinking of Michel Rolland--I work like him, he works like me--and we are very close. He's a good friend.

But maybe the difference is I think more about the food [that goes with the wine]. The food 40 years ago and 20 years ago and five years ago is different. But the wine [has always been] the same. I love the fruit of the grape. When you eat the grape in September, the taste is of blueberry, blackberry and strawberry, and I like to find the taste of the grape in the wine, in the glass. I try to have the fruit in the bottle, in that glass of wine.

WS: How do you get that?

JLC: We need to be very clean. Clean cellar, clean barrel. You need to wash your hands, wash the baskets. Simple, but in fact, it's very difficult to be clean.

WS: What are some of your favorite things to cook and eat with your wines?

JLC: Very simple things. Like a truffle with a T-bone and marrow. Maybe not in summer … but very good in winter or autumn. Cornas is also much better with venison. And of course, Lièvre à la Royale, which is stuffed and braised rabbit. There is a very famous recipe--it's cooked for a long, long, long time, maybe 18 hours. The stuffing is truffle, foie gras, a lot of spice and good fleur de sel. Usually the hare is like a big sausage. You cut the hare in slices. It's the best! In the U.S. it's very difficult to find, but one chef who cooks it very well is Didier Virot at Aix. It's wonderful. It's a food to dream, because it takes so long to make.

WS: What is your favorite non-European wine?

JLC: Ridge, by winemaker Paul Draper. Usually you have to like the wine and drink it and you get pleasure, and that's it. The winemaking is good when you get pleasure in the glass. But when you know the guy--and we enjoy sharing food and wine with him--or the philosophy of the person, it is much better. I like him very much because he's very knowledgeable and he knows food and wine.

The Wines we Tasted

2016 Jean-Luc Colombo, Côtes du Rhône Blanc, Les Abeilles

80% Clairette, 20% Roussanne
winer-searcher average price in US$: 13

2016 Jean-Luc Colombo, Côtes du Rhône Blanc, La Redonne

70% Viognier, 30% Roussanne

2015 Jean-Luc Colombo, Condrieu, Amour de Dieu

100% Viognier
winer-searcher average price in US$: 45

2016 Jean-Luc Colombo, Saint Péray, La Belle de Mai

60% Roussanne, 40% Marsanne

2017 Jean-Luc Colombo, Rosé, Cape Bleue, IGP Vins de Méditerrannée

Syrah Mouvédre Blend

2017 Jean-Luc Colombo, Rosé, La Dame de Rouet, AOC Coteaux d'aix en Provence

40% Syrah, 40% Cinsault, 20% Grenache

2016 Jean-Luc Colombo, Côtes du Rhône Rouge, Les Abeilles

60% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 10% Mouvedre

2016 Jean-Luc Colombo, Les Collines des Laure

100% Syrah
80% from Cornas and the remainder from Saint-Joseph and Crozes Hermitage

2015 Jean-Luc Colombo, Cornas, Terres Brûlées

100% Syrah

2015 Jean-Luc Colombo, Cornas, Les Ruchets
2010 Jean-Luc Colombo, Cornas, Les Ruchets
2006 Jean-Luc Colombo, Cornas, Les Ruchets

100% Syrah
This is Jean-Luc Colombo's signature wine
winer-searcher average price in US$: 79

2015 Jean-Luc Colombo, Cornas, La Louvée
2012 Jean-Luc Colombo, Cornas, La Louvée

100% Syrah
Aged 22 months in new and used oak 
0.8 hectares
winer-searcher average price in US$: 87

2015 Jean Luc Colombo, Cornas, Vallon d'Aigle

100% Syrah
A micro blend with only 4 barrels produced, this is the Qissential expression of Jean-Luc's savoir faire in Cornas
Aged 22 months in new and used oak
0.3 hectares
winer-searcher average price in US$: 228

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