Grapes: Clairette (80 percent), roussane (20 percent)
Region: Cotes du Rhone, Southern France
Availability: Lee’s Discount Liquor
In the glass: Les Abeilles white wine is a clean, clear, warm lemon-yellow color with a star-bright translucent core going out into a fine glass-clear rim definition with light viscosity.
On the nose: This wine is very fresh with immediate citrus zest, crushed pomelo, white grape juice and mineral-laden white fruits intermingled with white oleander flowers and hints of buttery Greek yogurt.
On the palate: This is a bone-dry white wine. It caresses the inside of the mouth with stone fruit, white currants and Kaffir lime notes. It continues with elevated levels of pure limestone-type minerality, really giving us hints as to where it comes from and what it is made of. There’s a nice balance between this mineral white fruit and the high-tone acidity, which at no time is allowed to take over, leading into a finish that seems harmonious and fresh.
Odds and ends: This interesting white wine from the Rhone Valley could easily become your favorite summer tipple. More structured and complex than most pinot grigios that are the favored white of choice for the hot months, this offers a nice little alternative without hurting your wallet. Jean-Luc Colombo is regarded as one of the finest producers of wine in the Rhone, and this wonderfully refreshing Les Abeilles (meaning “bees”) buzzes right along and cements that fact quite nicely.
This is a blend of clairette and roussane, staple white grape varieties unique to the Rhone Valley, that often produce quite dry and distinctive wines. In France this would be enjoyed by the glass on the patio on a hot day, often accompanied by a bowl of dried apricots or figs, or salty almonds. It all works quite well, especially when you remember to chill it to 50 degrees Fahrenheit before serving it. Drink it now through 2016.
Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89106-0749, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.