French Colombard, 1982. J. Pedroncelli| Vintage Wine History and Information

by Paul Kalemkiarian Sr | November 1982

The old line Italian wine making families of California have made a mark in our industry. They were at their avocation way before some of the young upstarts of today!

The Pedroncelli family still operate their winery. Giovanni Pedroncelli (who later changed his name to John) purchased the winery and its vineyards in 1927 from a wholesale grocer who had constructed it in 1904. The rolling hills near Geyserville in Sonoma County reminded him of his native Lombardy. He looked forward to playing bocce in the cellar of the winery and making a living for his family.

The Depression did not hit him as hard as his neighbours. He survived, despite Prohibition, by selling field-mixed grapes for home winemaking to Italians and Spaniards in the region. At repeal, he turned to expanded production of bulk wines. As was customary, families would drive up the valley, bring their own bottles, and purchase wine straight from the barrel.

John Sr. retired in 1955 and his two sons took over the duties. The older, John Jr. became winemaker and James the younger became general administrator. That is how it still is today have added a full line of varietals that are sound and reasonable in price, and a line of generic wines that shine among the jugs. Their French Colombard attracted my attention this year.

The Colombard grape is ordinary and 95% of the time the wine from it is the same. It is often used as a base for jug wines, and it makes a good blending white wine. Many winemakers do not seem to bother with it as a varietal. From the remainder that do, a star will shine every so often. A very pleasant, everyday type wine emerges, at a price level that keeps the “jugs” out of the refrigerator. We had such an example of the ’81 vintage as a club selection. Here is one from the ’82 vintage.

The wine is straw yellow in color. It shows a spritz. The aroma has plenty of fresh fruit, deep, clean, with the varietal character apparent. The taste follows the nose, with lots of fresh fruit showing. The spritz shows next in the taste, and adds well to the overall. It is well balanced for acid and sugar. Medium body, with a finish that lingers of fruit and acid. Serve well chilled as an aperitif wine with creamy type cheeses and fruit. As a meal accompani­ment, serve with fish or poultry.

Cellaring Notes: Not for ageing. Will drink well for 6 to 8 months.

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