The village of Cornas is tucked away along the western bank of the Rhône River just south of the city of Valence. Often overlooked in favor of the more notorious Hermitage wines just 8 miles north, the wines of Cornas are worth a second look. 100% Syrah, these robust reds benefit from steep granite slopes, long days of sunshine, and a unique microclimate harnessing the best of both Continental and Mediterranean climates as it sits towards the southern end of the northern Rhône. With just 325 acres under vine, Cornas is the smallest red wine appellation within the Rhône Valley.
Jean-Luc and Anne Colombo were pioneers in promoting the wines of Cornas and establishing this region as a dignified AOC. Anne now sits as President of the AOC Cornas Syndicate, supporting the educational, legal, and communication of the appellation. They have been making wines under their own label since 1994, following a successful career as wine consultants throughout the Côtes du Rhône. Their daughter Laure is now the head winemaker and was instrumental in completing the official certification process to convert the Domaine to organic farming practices. The domaine now produces wines from several regions within the Rhône as well as Provencal rosé and IGP Mediterranean rosé and blanc from the region surrounding Jean-Luc’s hometown of Marseille.
The tasting room sits on a sunny corner in the center of town. To get a better sense of the terroir, a vintage Land Rover is available for rides to the top of the hillside. From here it is easy to see the bend in the river, the neighboring AOC of Saint-Péray and the town of Valence in the distance. Steep terraced hillsides require mostly manual care of the vines. Where they can, JLC uses horses to till the soil, removing grass which competes with the grapevines for water and minerals, with a softer impact on the soil than the standard tractor.
Having a better sense of the terroir and geographic region makes for a better appreciation and understanding of what’s in the glass. Jean-Luc Colombo truly offers an expansive cross-section of Rhône Wines. From his hallmark single-vineyard Cornas “Les Ruchets” to rich, floral, and fruity whites from Saint-Péray and Condrieu, Jean Luc Colombo continues to produce wines that elegantly represent the best of the Northern Rhône and beyond.