Chateau Rochecolombe is located at the northern limit of the southern Cote du Rhone appellation near the village of Bourg Saint Andéol. In contract to the arid, stone covered vineyards of Chateauneauf du Pape and Gigondas here, west of the Rhone River in the Ardeche department, green cover crops often grow between the vines.
In the 1880’s the Herberigs family from Belgium purchased the property as a summer retreat. In 1925, their apricot orchards which surrounded the property were re-planted with Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Clairette. Vineyards are situated on an elevated southeast facing hillside terraces. Forests surround and protect the vineyards for the Northern Mistral wind. In total, they own 24 hectares (60 acres) with soils of limestone gravel and clay. They also have galets covered vineyards. These are small rounded stones seen in the best Chateauneuf du Pape vineyards.
Today, fourth generation owner Rolland Herberigs and his wife Florence who are both trained oenologists and manage all aspects of production with their son and a small staff. Their vineyards have been certified organic since 2009. They found that with proper vineyard management there was no need for chemical fertilizers or treatments. Their modern cellars use stainless steel and concrete vats for vinification and oak barrels for aging certain wines. A few years ago they went to the considerable expense of replacing the wooden rafters in their cellars that had been infected by brett (Brettanomyces) a yeast which can taint wines unattractive flavors and aromas.
Rather than purchasing new vines at a nursery, they use massal selection to propagate new vines. This is the process of determining which vines are the healthiest and produce the highest quality fruit. Cuttings are then taken to reproduce them. This has been done for hundreds of years in Burgundy and requires considerably patience and investment.
Due to the slightly cooler climate and vineyard management Chateau Rochecolombe produces opulent, and pure flavored wines, which are balanced and structured. Their red wines feature a high percentage of Grenache with Syrah accounting for the remainder. Great care is taken in the vineyards with Grenache so that grapes are not matured to over-ripeness resulting in sweet, jammy wines with burning alcohol. Structure and balance is provided by acid and tannin from Syrah. Rather than the muscular, coarse style of Syrah found in the hottest areas of southern France, here it maintains its natural peppery character.
They produce six wines including a Cote du Rhone, Cote du Rhone Villages and barrel aged Cote du Rhone. There are two whites, a Cote du Rhone made from Clairette as well as a barrel aged version of this wine. A rosé Cote du Rhone is made from Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault.