If tasting wines from Y. Rousseau, a journey into the somewhat obscure (for California) Colombard grape is a must. Yannick, owner and winemaker of Y. Rousseau wines, is a native Gascon — as is the white grape Colombard. So it’s only appropriate that in 1996, while studying for his winemaking degree at Toulouse University and interning at Côtes de Gascogne, the first wine Yannick ever made was Colombard. When Yannick eventually founded Y. Rousseau Wines in 2008, Colombard was his “inaugural wine,” and, according to Yannick, remains one of his most popular.

Read more about the Colombard grape.

About the Wine: Y.Rousseau 2015 Old Vines Colombard is made from 100% Colombard grapes harvested from 44-year-old (as of the 2015 harvest) dry-farmed vines. The vineyard site is one of the last remaining Colombard vineyards in the Russian River Vally.

The grapes went through 100% barrel fermentation using native yeast and aged sur lies for 10 months in French oak barrels (100% used, no new oak) without battonage.

Barrel fermentation and 100% oak aging sur lies was a bit of an experiment for Yannick. According to the winemaker, the early harvest for 2015 just presented grapes that were a lot fuller and sturdier than previous years and he used that — along with his curiosity — to his advantage.

12.5% ABV

Flavor Profile: Beautiful spring time aromas of apple, lychee, and an almost sweet floral perfume gently waft out of the bottle. The Y.Rousseau 2015 Old Vines Colombard is a soft, sandy hue from bottle to glass — reminiscent of beach sand bleached by the sun.

Once in the glass, the initial aromas are those scented from the bottle, adding to it a bit of a sea breeze, and the undeniable scent of oak-aged wine coming forward in a cold butter or cold pastry smell. Swirl, and the Colombard opens up the crispness of those apples, the addition of apple blossoms, bits of agave, and fresh sea breeze (again). Move the nose to the top of the glass to find some fresh cut grass. Pull the nose away and find a marine-layer complete with salty sea air and seaweed.

On the palate, the Y.Rousseau 2015 Old Vines Colombard is soft, round, with flavors of apple, honeycomb, white wood chips, and pastry flakes. There’s minimal acid — which is only found on the back of the palate until the very last second when it squeezes the side of the tongue for a salivating finish.

Food Pairing: I paired the Y.Rousseau 2015 Old Vines Colombard with a seared halibut atop cauliflower ‘rice,’ immersed in a ginger-lemongrass seafood broth. (Yes, yum.) The soft, round texture of the wine, it’s oak age, gave it enough structure to stand up to the meaty flesh of the halibut. Meanwhile, those fruit and floral elements did well to contrast the herbaceous, spice-fulness known to Asian cuisine.

More Info: I received the Y.Rousseau 2015 Old Vines Colombard as a sample for review (Cheers Yannick and Olga!) Retail: $24. Because only 44 cases were produced, this wine is sold exclusively at the winery, but is also available on the winery’s website. For more information and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Y.Rousseau website.

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