Forget about “smooooth:” the Colombo Les Abeilles Blanc is a well-made, terroir-driven French white
Wine Curmudgeon alert: The Colombo Les Abeillles Blanc is not for all tastes – it’s not “smooooth,” it’s made with weird grapes, and it’s most decidedly a product of its terroir. So when you see people saying nasty things about it (some very nasty, in fact), you’ll know why.
And also why the Colombo Les Abeillles Blanc 2016 ($12, purchased, 13%) is the wine of the week. It’s a French white blend from the Rhone made with roussanne, which is sort of known, and clairette, which is barely known at all. As such, it doesn’t taste like chardonnay and it doesn’t taste like the high-score, trophy white Rhone wines that cost $50.
But it does taste like the kind of wine to have for dinner with chicken braised with chickpeas. The wine, despite its age, is still quite fresh. Look for a little petrol aroma, as well as that wonderfully off-center lime-ish roussanne fruit and some peach from the clairette.
The 2017 is the current vintage, which I have not tasted. But if it is as well made as the 2016, all should be well.
The Ferraton Samorens is a white blend from the Rhone region of France with two odd grapes, which is one reason why the Wine Curmudgeon liked it. The other? How about terroir and value?
The Ferraton Samorens ($13, sample, 13%) is the kind of wine I wished we saw more often in the U.S. But since we’ve been told we have to drink varietal wine, you have to look harder for something like the Ferraton Samorens.
What will you find if you see it on a shelf? A white blend with grenache blanc and clairette, about as far removed from Big Wine chardonnay and pinot grigio as possible. That means a certain floral aroma, with soft pear and apple fruit and what one review called liveliness – despite not having a lot of the acidity usually found in white wines at this price.
In this, the price is the only disappointment. A couple of years ago, the Ferraton Samorens would have been closer to $10, and the weak euro should have kept it that way. But we’re seeing producers, importers, and distributors keep prices up, and that’s the cost of enjoying this wine.
The Wine Curmudgeon’s crankiness, as regular visitors here know, is not an act. It’s because I am forced to taste so much insulting wine that is sold by retailers who don’t care as long as they make their numbers. Hence $8 wine with a $15 price tag and private label junk dressed in winespeak and a cute label.
So when I find something like the Moulin de Gassac Guilhem ($12, purchased, 12.5%), I buy two bottles. Or even more. This is cheap white wine – and French cheap white wine at that – that reminds us what cheap white wine is supposed to taste like. And that it is made with the little known grenache blanc and the even more obscure clairette doesn’t hurt, either. Take that, fake oak chardonnay!