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).
Bordeaux in France. The variety, around the 1970s, lost favour in France, resulting in more than half the plantings being uprooted.
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.
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.
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.
Grapes ripen late midseason, from the first half of March.
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 are dark green, medium-sized and round to almost kidney-shaped.
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.
It may be used for the production of single varietal wines, distilled wines, such as brandy, sparkling wines or blended wines.
The variety produces excellent brandy and wines with crisp fruity flavours.