Château del a Cômbe is a family-owned domaine in Provence in the South of France, producing a small quantities of premium wines from their estate that sits on the Roman road, the Via Aurelia. Though an ancient vineyard area, la Cômbe is a new project, describing itself as a “boutique organic vineyard.”
The Landsberg family acquired the domaine in 2009, and following restoration of the château and replanting of the vineyards, their first harvest was in 2013. The estate farms organically and the wines are certified organic, surely helped by the fact that the area enjoys a microclimate, situated as it is between two mountain ranges, with the Mistral winds freshening the vineyards while the proximity to the Mediterranean promotes a warmer climate. Ploughing replaces weed killers, synthetic chemical sparays against insecticides and disease are not used, manure is used for fertilisation, and harvesting is by hand. It’s a very large estate of 260 hectares, though only six hectares are planted to vine, the rest being mostly forest and olive groves.
In the winery, fermentation uses natural yeasts in a combination of stainless steel tanks and temperature-controlled oak vats, with wines aged in 228-litre Alliers oak barriques.
The wines of Château del a Cômbe were brought to my attention by their UK importer, the Scottish-based Joli Vin. A family business with an agricultural and sustainable salmon farming background, Joli Vin says, “The wines are built on the same philosophy that we know only too well, a sustainable approach with organic methods as its ethos.” The wines have already been awarded gold and silver medals at prestigious French wine competitions, and I have to say they are impressive. There’s obviously serious intent here, and the wines stand up to scrutiny.
Joli Vin also offers 10% off of the single bottle price for unmixed cases of six of the château’s wines, and there are mixed case offers too.
(2020) Cuvée Sasha is Viognier blended with 20% Rolle (Vermentino) and aged in Alliers oak barrels. It has a fabulous and seductive nose, vanilla and buttery toast underpinning floral, honeysuckle and yellow plum and apricot, with Sandalwood spices running through it. In the mouth the exotic nature of the fruit, fully ripe and sweet-edged is a delight, and those components of buttery pastry and spices combine, freshened by gentle but incisive acidity into a long, creamy and sweet fruited finish. Terrific and irresistable stuff. £13.50 equivalent when bought as a case of six.
(2020) The subsequent vintage of this wine has a slightly different blend - this time 86% Viognier and 14% Rolle, half a percent more alcohol, but it seems to me that the oak has been reined back. Certainly the vanilla and toast on the nose of the 2014 gives way here to a purer fruit quality, notes of acacia and stone fruits, light honey, and just a biscuity and creamy oak in the background. In the mouth the wine is weighty and textured, the freshness is very good again and the alcohol carried lightly, some fat citrussy acidity adding balance. Again a 10% discount on a six-bottle case brings the price down to £15.40. Watch the video
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(2020) The blend here is 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Syrah and 2% Mourvèdre, fermented in oak vats like the Lady Severine, but spending 24 months in barrique. In many ways it's a more 'serious' wine than the Lady S, certainly more dusty, concentrated intense Cabernet Sauvignon tannins and dark fruit. Aromatically there is plushness and a depth of black berry fruit, on the palate that is fat and juicy on the mid-palate, then those tannins, a stripe of acidity and a toasty touch of charry barrel kick in. As I say, a more serious style and would benefit from decanting. Price if bought by the case of six falls to £21.60
(2020) Deep, dark, sleek and sophisticated, this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah with a splash of Mourvèdre was fermented in oak vats and spent a year in Alliers oak barriques. The nose has a pleasing hint of rosemary and thyme, but is mostly about black fruit and a sheen of polished oak. In the mouth plenty of juicy dark fruit, edges with bittersweet cocoa and damson plum skins, the tannins fine but persistent. It's a big mouthful of wine, but has elegance too and, I would guess, several years of cellaring potential. A 10% discount on buying six bottles brings the price down to £18.90.