2020 Hanna Colombard 750ml
Vineyard: Extra grapes elicit no delight in a large harvest’s weary end, but local vineyard owner and trucking magnate Butch Cameron’s late October 2016 call offering a couple of tons of Russian River Colombard got me in my truck fast. Once an important cultivar in Sonoma County, it now exists only in a few remnant plots amounting to fewer than 10 acres. I had made Colombard from the Ukiah and Anderson Valleys years ago and enjoyed its enigmatic combination of vibrancy and neoteny- it’s not that it aged well, rather that it simply stayed young.
The River Road vineyard was mud slicked and pushing grass from a recent rain. It was easy to spot the 50-year-old monsters with leathery leaves and football sized clusters. The fruit was tart, low sugar and delicious. We made a deal on the spot.
We now harvest most of this historic block. Every visit is a trip back to the 60s, when viticulture was a far less fussy affair. The wine itself is bright, aromatic and low alcohol--deliciously ethereal. The Oxford Companion to Wine’s Jancis Robinson wrote of Colombard, “It would take some sorcery to transform Colombard into an exciting wine.” Time is the sorcerer, and we are happy to be the medium.
Russian River Valley 2019:.Winter was mild and very wet, delaying bud break and setting the stage for a dry farmed year in the RRV. Degree-days tracked a bit higher than 2018, with ideal weather and no temperature spikes, until September heat pushed things along. Harvest was early for slow ripening Colombard, which benefited by May rain that reduced fruit set. Our 2019 Colombard was harvested on October 4, at an average of 20.4° Brix, TA of 1.04 g/100 mL, and pH 3.06.
Winemaking: Our winemaking begins in the vineyard. We manage the canopies to achieve flavor enhancing filtered light from fruit set on. Harvesting is done at night by hand. We inoculated with a combination of two different yeasts and fermented in 70% stainless steel and 30% Sonoma Cast Concrete (our new tank, purchased specifically for Colombard, affectionately known as Petra). We aged the Colombard on the lees until four weeks before bottling, which enhances the mouthfeel and keeps the wine fresh and bright.
Tasting Notes: Only a pale spring green belies its existence. Our Colombard defies gravity with its lightness, but is also redolent of Anjou pear, lemon verbena, Crane Melon and a Moroccan lemon stall. Supple and bright, it dances joyously, never touching the ground. (Tasted July 28, 2021)
Variety 100% Colombard
Vineyard Location Russian River Valley
Age of Vines 50+ years
0.76 g/100 mL
Residual Sugar 0.2%
Avg. Brix at Harvest 21.1o
Harvest Date September 22, 2020
Fermentation 2 selected yeasts, avg 55 °F
Malolactic fermentation none
Length/Type of Aging Stainless Steel
Bottling Date March 22, 2021
Number of Cases 87