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Colombard Wine Guide: Colombard Regions and Tasting Notes

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Aug 31, 2020 • 2 min read

This widely-planted French white grape variety is common in blends from Bordeaux, California, and South Africa.

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What Is Colombard?

Colombard is a French white wine grape variety from Charentes, the home of Cognac. A cross between chenin blanc and gouais blanc, colombard is relatively neutral in flavor, so it's rarely bottled as a varietal wine. Instead, colombard is blended with other white grapes to produce everything from affordable "jug wine" to sparkling wine.

Where Do Colombard Grapes Grow?

Colombard originated in Charentes in southwest France and is cultivated both in the nearby wine regions of France and abroad.

  1. Charentes: With its origins in the home of Cognac, colombard is naturally one of the three main grapes used to produce the distilled wine. It tends to be less acidic and more alcoholic than other Cognac grapes (ugni blanc and folle blanche), which makes the colombard the least favored for distilling.
  2. Gascony: Traditionally used to produce brandy such as Armagnac, colombard is now one of the grapes used to produce vins de pays (a step above table wine) under the appellation Côtes de Gascogne. The Gers department grows more colombard than anywhere else in France. Colombard is also found in the Floc de Gascogne aperitif.
  3. Bordeaux: Colombard is one of 12 permitted grape varieties in Bordeaux Blanc, a highly regarded white blend.
  4. California: California's Central Valley is home to far more "French Colombard" (as the grape is known there) than France. The grape thrives in this dry climate, producing fruity blends and varietal wines.
  5. South Africa: Colombar, as colombard known locally, accounts for 11.5 percent of South Africa's total plantings, making the country its top producer. Colombar is used to produce semi-dry white table wines.
  6. Australia: Australia has significant plantings of colombard and typically blends the grape with chenin blanc and sauvignon blanc.
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What Does Colombard Taste Like?

Colombard has a relatively neutral flavor, light body, and low tannins. Its high acidity lends a crisp, tart flavor to blends with more flavorful white grapes such as chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and chenin blanc. Colombard tasting notes include tart green apple, sweet melon and peach, and bitter almond.

How to Pair Colombard With Food

White wines featuring colombard grapes are generally crisp and tart, making them a good choice for sushi, ceviche, and fish in general. Colombard wines also pair nicely with the light, vegetable-focused fare of Californian cuisine. Try colombard with a cheese plate featuring cheddar or gruyere.

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