Colombar

© Glenneis Kriel

Description

Colombar is a white wine variety better known for the production of distilled wines, such as brandy and cognac. It is one of the most planted varieties in South Africa and was developed from a crossing of Chenin blanc with Heunisch Weiss (also known as Gouias blanc).

Origins

Bordeaux in France. The variety, around the 1970s, lost favour in France, resulting in more than half the plantings being uprooted.

Other names

Bon-blanc, Colombard, Colombier (France), French Colombard (California).

Production in South Africa

It has been planted in South Africa since the 1920s and was primarily used as a base wine for brandy production until the 1970s, when Cape Wine makers discovered it could produce extremely pleasant drinking wines.

Production regions

The variety does best under warm climatic conditions. It is planted in all the wine producing regions of South Africa, with the Olifants River, Northern Cape, Robertson and Breedekloof accounting for the largest areas under production.

Growth

It is a vigorous grower, with an average yield potential of 15 t/ha to 20 t/ha. Higher yields are achieved in some regions.

Ripening

Grapes ripen late midseason, from the first half of March.

Berries

The berries are round to short oval, medium-sized and yellowish green, with a purple tinge when fully mature. The skin is thin and tough, while the flesh is firm and juicy, with high acid levels when ripe.

Leaves

Leaves are dark green, medium-sized and round to almost kidney-shaped.
©Glenneis Kriel

Pests and diseases

The variety is susceptible to wind damage in the harvesting season and frost in spring. It is reasonably resistant to botrytis, downy mildew and powdery mildew. Best results are achieved when the vineyards are trellised.

Use

It may be used for the production of single varietal wines, distilled wines, such as brandy, sparkling wines or blended wines.

Taste

The variety produces excellent brandy and wines with crisp fruity flavours.