Domaine Vins ColomboHistory, labels, secrets & passions

Discover the history of the domain, its labels, secrets and passions. Anna Caidan meets up with Jean-Luc Colombo, proprietor of Domaine Vins-Colombo
Wine Story

What can you tell me about the history of Vins Colombo?

‘Vins Colombo is a family story, I started over forty years ago with my wife as pharmacists, and we decided to open a lab, to consult, like Michel Rolland and Denis Dubourdieu, in the Northern and Southern Rhone and Provence for all the varietals, and we decided in the 80s, Cornas was a place, not well known and very sleepy and it was good for us to start in this place. It was maybe in Margaux or Pauillac that I should have gone, but Margaux and Pauillac was well known forty years ago.’

What is your favourite step in the winemaking process?

‘What I prefer is the viticulture and the grape, and the leaves and the vine grows and how we can make the small road right to the vines and plant a lot of trees around like a hedge, because forty years ago no people talked about biodynamic or organic viticulture, but I decided to use a lot of birds, animals, butterflies, insects, and so, in the 80s, 90s and after, we never used pesticides, and when my daughter arrived eight years ago, she said “why don’t we have an organic stamp” and I said “Ok why not!” It is a good marketing, because now people that are organic, biodynamic, it means nothing, but its ok. But you have to know that the Organic and biodynamic need rules, and there are no rules. An example is, in organic or biodynamic, they use always irrigation, and irrigation is a crime! We don’t need to use water to make wine! Because we need to respect the terroir, we need to respect the vintage. So if we stop irrigation today, because there is the global warming, there are 75 vineyard in the world that would die (…) can you imagine all the reviews, and no reviews, no journalists talk about it, because they are afraid. They need to be strong, because water is very important for the future children, when there is not enough water in the world. So we have to stop irrigation immediately, and we have to check that biodynamic or organic wines do not use irrigation, otherwise they should be put in jail! I am very serious. No irrigation around the world, to protect the world. All the biodynamic, organic or natural wine makers that use irrigation are criminals. And I am very serious, we never use water in the wines. Unfortunately, since maybe ten years, in the Rhone, Languedoc, Spain, Italy, Sicily and in Greece, they use water, and it is a crime! Even in the States! Stop irrigation!’

What is the secret to making Vins Colombo wines?

‘To respect all life such as rabbits and respect bees. I have rabbits in my vineyard. Nobody likes rabbits, nobody likes bees, nobody likes insects. They talk about organic, but they don’t know what it is. So the philosophy of the Colombo family and the wines, is to love animals, to love insects, to love nature, that’s it! Simple!’

What is your best memory since starting Vins Colombo?

‘I make wine because I love food, and I love chefs. But when people choose the wine and don’t understand if there is irrigation or not, for me it is difficult to understand the wine business. So for me, the best thing, is the best chef, like Hélène Darroze and the best food, and the best wine, but natural! Like to use wild seabass, not farmed seabass!’

What is the story behind the labels?

‘The story behind the label is always to do with nature and the romantics, because for me, to look at the cypress, the juniper, to look at the oak, and the birds like hawks, is something I have to put on the label, and the name is the same. Usually you drink red wine at the table, with your mother, grandmother who are always good chefs. Your mother or grandmother respects the pasta, she respects the rice, so you have to do the same. So sometimes the label is like that.’

When is the best time to drink your wines?

‘It depends, when it is a rosé from the coast, you need to drink it today, you can wait two years for a rosé, not ten years! When you drink a Crozes-Hermitages, maybe up to ten years, but you can drink it after two years. When you drink a Cornas, you can keep a Cornas for forty years, like a Château Margaux, Lafite, Haut-Brion.’

What type of food pairs best with your wines?

‘We produce different wines. Some is very nice with oysters, like the rosé, or an entrance level of a Cotes du Rhone, is very nice with salmon, with something simple. Today in Paris there is the Hare Royale, and it is a nice sauce, long recipe, so we produce Cornas, maybe three single vineyards of Cornas, Les Ruchets, La Louvée, Le Vallon de l’Aigle, those wines are for venison, or game like that. It depends on the vintage and it depends on the wine.’

How would you describe the French way of life?

‘The French touch? We have a joke; “We forget a bad dinner, with a good speech at the end. In France we make a bad speech at the beginning, because we need a good dinner!”. Very important! The French style is spending a long time at the table side by side with the wine, not to drink fast, but to taste just like the food. You look at your plate and you take time to smell, it is the same for the wine. This is the French style!’

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