Colobel is a somewhat cold hardy French-American
hybrid. Plantings of the vine are limited in North America as it ripens late. It is planted primarily
for high red color having impressive pigment. We sell Colobel as a teinturier grape or juice. The
quality of the wine produced by the grape alone is not great. It turns teeth a long lasting
For the amateur winemaker the value of a bottle can be worth its weight in gold
when color is needed. One 750 ml bottle will go very far to deepen the color of disappointing red or to give
a pinkish hue to white wines for a quick and easy way to make a blush.
It is a late ripening Interspecific hybrid, without labrusca
characteristics. Tom had our Colobel hot pressed one year and we were very impressed with the
results. Our first Baron's Blend, released on October 14, 2006 was colored with the aid of cold
pressed colobel, as usual. We made a second batch for the next weekend with the use of the
hot pressed colobel. What a difference between the two. Colobel tends to have a high acid also, but if
you just use a little, it is not an issue. Some of our winemakers order 20-30 pounds of grapes to use
instead of a bag of skins to ferment their red juices with.
I think of Colobel as a special child. If you
order Colobel, do not wear your new white sneakers when you come to pick it up. If anything can go wrong,
it will go wrong with Colobel. The pail will leak, it will escape out of the grommet in the lid, it will
splatter when you pound the lid on. It will probably be in cahoots with the wagon to tip over. If
anything tips over in the car, it will be something special and expensive like Riesling or it will be the
Colobel. It will not come out of your clothes with boiling water from a height of 2 feet. BUT, it is
great for color!
FYI: In the development of the French-American hybrids or Interspecific
Varieties, the use of V. labrusca was avoided so as not to impart its
strong flavor to the new selections. Many other wild American species were used, especially V. aestivalis lincecumii (the Post Oak
Grape), V. rupestris (the Sand Grape) and V. riparia (the Riverbank Grape). The flavors of the French-American group are quite
variable but much more subtle than the flavors of many varieties derived from V.
Even with the aid of the 'red book', (Vineyard and cellar notes 1958-1973), I was
unable to untangle Colobel's origins, so we won't worry about that.