I was (almost) lost
for words when I tasted Jean-Luc Colombo's range of
Cornas with Laure Colombo last week. They were simply stunning, and
I cannot recommend strongly enough that you try them!
Based in Cornas, the
Colombo family—headed by Jean-Luc, his wife Anne and increasingly
assisted by their daughter Laure—reaches up and down the Rhône and beyond
for their négociant bottlings... there's no denying the passion for
Cornas that comes through in those wines. The 2018s are all excellent,
from the entry-level Terres Brulées to the extravagantly priced,
micro-production Vallon de l'Aigle.
- Joe Czerwinski, The Wine Advocate
Jean-Luc Colombo has been
leading the way in the Cornas appellation since 1982, when he bought his
domaine and set up his own wine consultancy business. Originally from
Marseille and from a family of chefs, Jean-Luc is happiest around the
table at home with family or friends, with some good food (cooked by his
wife Anne) and wine (from his enviable cellar).
Their cellars are located in the village of Cornas, which gives its name
to this tiny appellation of only 150 hectares, with steep granite
terraces overlooking the Rhone River, and a claim to be the birthplace of
They transmitted their love of wine to their daughter Laure, who joined
the family estate in 2010, and is increasingly taking a leading role.
Laure brings her delicacy and energy to the family estate, and has
introduced a strong focus on organic farming and biodiversity, planting
and preserving native plants on the edge of vineyards; encouraging the
habitat of the native fauna by leaving woodland areas undisturbed.
The harvest conditions for the 2018 vintage were near perfect - with
warm temperatures ensuring consistent ripening of the grapes. This
ensured excellent, even exceptional, quality across the Cornas vineyards,
producing concentrated wines with great colour and tannins.
All these wines are fantastic, from the Terres Brûlées all the way
up to the truly incredible Vallon de L’Aigle, with power, finesse,
soft spice and oodles of character!
Terres Brûlées, J-L Colombo @ £175 per 6
100% Syrah grapes from vines averaging 40 years old, grown on granitic
steep slopes. Terres Brûlées (burnt earth) is a blend of up to 20
parcels, hand harvested in small batches.
Brulées, or burnt earth, aptly describes the nose on this enticingly
smoky, singed Syrah. Vinified from fully destemmed grapes and matured 21
months in oak (10% new), it has joyously youthful black-cherry and cassis
flavors. Kissed by vanilla and framed in silky tannins, it's a
fresh-footed expression of Cornas that's drinking at peak now through
93pt, Wine Enthusiast
mineral-inflected aromas of fresh black/blue fruits, candied flowers,
olive and exotic spices show fine definition and a hint of smokiness.
Densely packed and energetic on the palate, offering bitter cherry and
blackberry flavors that unfold slowly with air and show sharp
delineation. The blue fruit note carries through an impressively long,
spicy finish shaped by fine-grained, even tannins
93-94pt, Josh Raynolds, vinous
2018 Cornas Les
Ruchets, J-L Colombo @ £235 per 6
Les Ruchets (beehives) was the first vineyard Jean-Luc purchased. Les
Ruchets is a single parcel vineyard at an elevation of 220m with granitic
soil on the famously steep slopes of “Chaillot” in Cornas,
surrounded by green oaks and junipers. The low yielding vines are up to
90 years old.
inky, intensely plummy Syrah balances rich, pulsating black-fruit flavors
against lip-smacking cassis and accents of tapenade, charcuterie and
blood. Sourced from 90-year-old vines and aged 22 months in oak (15%
new), the penetrating wine is framed by fine, firm tannins and lingering
notes of vanilla, chocolate and earth. Drink 2023–2040
96pt, Wine Enthusiast
a touch more concentrated than Colombo's la Louvée bottling but also
having a slightly coarser, more open-knit texture, the 2018 Cornas les
Ruchets leads off with hints of mint, fennel, crushed stone and
blackberries. It's full-bodied and rich, expansive and generous without
crossing over into being jammy, with savory notes of black olives and
roast meat to balance out the ripe fruit and a lingering, softly tannic
94pt, Joe Czerwinski, The Wine Advocate
2018 Cornas La
Louvée, J-L Colombo @ £250 per 6
La Louvée (female wolf) is a 0.8ha single parcel vineyard on part of the
Côte” slope on the emblematic granitic soil of the Cornas
region. Made up of old vines up to 70 years in age, the vineyard faces
south and is protected by a cedar and Holm oak forest. It is the lowest
altitude vineyard at 180 metres.
floral compared to Colombo's meatier, more earthen bottlings, La Louvée
focuses on intensely ripe blackberry and blueberry flavors dusted with a
shower of basalt and struck granite. Satiny on the palate and held
upright by piercing black-currant acidity, this sleek, supple Syrah is
ready now but should improve through 2035 and hold longer still.
96pt, Wine Enthusiast
array of fresh dark fruit, floral and succulent herb qualities on the
highly perfumed nose. A vibrant mineral note gains volume as the wine
opens up and carries onto the palate, which shows excellent clarity to
the juicy cherry liqueur, cassis and spicecake flavors. Mixes depth and
liveliness with a sure hand and shows fine definition and mineral thrust
on a very long, gently tannic finish.
94-95pt, Josh Raynolds, vinous
2018 Cornas Le
Vallon de L’Aigle, J-L Colombo @ £415 per 3
Le Vallon de L’Aigle (valley of the eagle) is a wine made only during the
best vintages and in tiny quantities, usually only 4-5 barrels. The
single vineyard plot is only 0.3ha, in a natural amphitheater made up of
three terraces which are part of the “Arlette” slope, surrounded by
a forest of green oaks. This is the highest altitude single vineyard
parcel and faces south-east with 70+ year old vines. Yields are low –
only three clusters per vine.
of charred earth, salt and iron collide with piercing blackberry and plum
in this opulent yet sharply filigreed Syrah. The producer's flagship
Cornas, this bottling is made only in outstanding vintages from the
free-run juice of low-yielding 70-year-old vines. Glossy and rich yet
weightless and airy, it's delicious in youth but has decades of evolution
ahead. Drink through 2040
98pt, Wine Enthusiast
bottled every vintage, the 2018 Cornas Vallon de l'Aigle looks worthy of
the name. From a single parcel of old, south-facing vines, it seamlessly
marries herbal nuances of mint and licorice with dark berries and grilled
beef into a harmonious, savory bouquet. Full-bodied but fresh and silky,
it's deceptively easy to drink. It finishes long with a dusting of cedar
and crushed stone.
95pt, Joe Czerwinski, The Wine Advocate
aromas of ripe black/blue fruits, candied flowers, olive paste and exotic
spices are sharpened by a building mineral nuance. Densely packed and
energetic on the palate, offering bitter cherry, blueberry, licorice and
fruitcake flavors that unfurl slowly with air and take on a subtle cola
note. The blue fruit note drives a strikingly long, floral-accented
finish that's given grip by fine-grained, steadily building tannins.
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