Vin de France & Grape Varieties


Encyclopedia of French Grape Varieties

{ White Wine }


Based on genetic analysis, Colombard results from crossbreeding Gouais Blanc and Chenin Blanc, two grape varieties from central and western France.

Colombard is loved for its lime, peach and nectarine notes. Sometimes, a touch of grapefruit also accompanies this sweet, fruity range of flavors.

Wines produced
Colombard is used to make pleasant, highly aromatic wines with a good acid structure. They should be enjoyed young in order to appreciate their aperitif-like liveliness and fruity aromas.

Areas planted
It is farmed mainly in Gascony and throughout southwestern France, including the Gers region. After decreasing until 1998, due to the drop in sales of wines and spirits, production of Colombard is once again on the rise, today reaching around 7,500 hectares. The variety is increasingly dedicated to making still wines.

Budding and ripening
Colombard buds 2 days after Chasselas, the benchmark variety. The end of the ripening period, which occurs 3 weeks after that of Chasselas, is particularly late. This makes Colombard a Period II grape variety.

Colombard is a fertile, highly vigorous and productive grape variety. It can be pruned either long or short depending on the type of wines to be produced. For still wines, it is preferable to prune short in order to limit yield and obtain richer grapes. Pruning is difficult, as it results in hard woods.

Preferred soils
Limestone and even clay-limestone soils, such as those in southwestern France, suit Colombard well.

Ideal Climate
Colombard is a grape variety that needs a temperate yet warm climate. It grows well in the Atlantic region in the summer and end of summer as it ripens late. It does not withstand drought well, and needs to be regularly watered. For this reason, it is better suited to the vineyards of southwestern France to those of the southeast, which are too dry for its metabolism.

Susceptibility to disease and pests
This variety is not highly susceptible to oidium on its leaves and to gray mold when the grapes are ripe.

Colombard is used only to produce wine or brandies (Armagnac and Cognac).

Distinctive features
Colombard’s young leaves are yellow with bronze patches. Its adult leaves, which are orbicular and kidney-shaped, are either whole or have three lobes with a very open V-shaped petiolar sinus, small teeth, and no anthocyanic pigmentation of the veins. Colombard’s leaf blade is involute and its lower surface has a sparse to moderately dense coat of flat-lying and upright hairs. Its berries are short and oblong.

Clones marketed
The twelve approved Colombard clones (specifically named Colombard B) are numbers 551, 552, 553, 605, 606, 607, 608, 609, 625, 626, 695 et 938. More than 180 clones are gathered at two conservatories planted in 1995 and 2002 in Gers.

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