Rombauer

The Joy of Wine

Founded by Koerner Rombauer (a relation of Irma Rombauer, author of the best-selling Joy of Cooking), Rombauer Winery is a successful, family-owned Napa Valley winery with sales of over 150,000 cases per year, six estate vineyards, and some of the most loyal fans of any winery anywhere. (Employees are loyal as well. Ritchie Allen, Rombauer’s Australian-born winemaker, began his career as a harvest intern in 2004). Yet becoming one of Napa Valley’s premier wineries did not happen overnight. In the 1970s, the Rombauers began as partners in the Conn Creek Winery, only establishing their own label and winery in 1980. It wasn’t until 1990, with Chardonnay from the Sangiacomo Vineyard in Carneros, that the transformation into a major winery truly began. The 1991 Carneros Chardonnay not only received rave reviews, it placed 68th on the Wine Spectator list of top 100 wines. As demand grew, Rombauer decided to begin farming. In 2002, Rombauer purchased the Buchli Station Vineyard in Carnernos to serve as a main source of Chardonnay. Other vineyards – on Atlas Peak and in St. Helena and Calistoga – produce Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Their estate Zinfandel comes from the old-vine vineyard that surrounds the winery as well another in Amador County. The winery also maintains long-term leases with growers throughout Napa and Lake Counties and the Sierra Foothills.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Rombauer wines are unashamedly Californian; they are rich, opulent, luscious, fruit forward, and ready to drink upon release. Their complex spectrum of aroma and flavor includes not only the primary fruit but an amalgam of butter and spice notes from oak ageing, malolactic fermentation, lees stirring and other winemaking techniques. Though popular, they are not easy or inexpensive to produce. Vineyard managers use aerial photography to tailor their practices to individual vineyard blocks. Many tons of grapes must be harvested within a critical time window, when they have developed ideal ripeness while retaining enough acidity to undergo barrel aging. In order to make wine from only the best berries, Rombauer owns not one but two optical sorters, so that large quantities of grapes can be processed quickly. All the Chardonnay and many of the red wines go through primary and malolactic fermentation in barrel in order produce the flavors and textures so loved by the customers and critics alike. Some have said that Rombauer wines exemplify a powerful, “in your face,” style of California wine. Rombauer would respond that their legions of fans are more than happy with the winery continuing to refine its house style. While there is a role (and market) for leaner wines modeled on Chablis or Graves, Rombauer reminds us that we can take pleasure – and get joy – from the rich bounty of the Napa Valley.

Wines from this Winery

2013 Rombauer Carneros Merlot

2013 Rombauer Carneros Merlot

Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are not the only grape varieties to prosper in the cool climate and clay soils of Carneros. Merlot is brighter, more refreshing and more structured when grown in a cool climate. Think of the great wines of Bordeaux’s right bank, and you know that Merlot can have a fleshy grip full of spice and earth. Near perfect conditions in 2013 produced high-quality fruit that made for a soft, rich wine with well-developed plum and cherry flavors. This versatile wine would pair well with such meat dishes as hamburgers, pork ribs, herbed chicken and lamb as well as hearty vegetarian dishes. 

Details
¥ 5,900
2015 Rombauer Carneros Chardonnay

2015 Rombauer Carneros Chardonnay

Rombauer’s many fans see this as the epitome of Napa Chardonnay when it’s well done and combines excellent terroir, meticulous farming, and three decades of winemaking craft. If you love Chardonnay that’s creamy and rich – but not overdone – that tantalizes with aromas of sun-ripened fruit and a juicy palate of baked apple, citrus, a touch of butter and spice – then this wine is for you. Rather than make a wine that will reach perfection in ten years, Rombauer suggests, “Why not make it taste good right off the bat?“ 2015 saw the cool, foggy mornings and sunny afternoons that typically mark summers in Carneros and allow for fresh acidity, bright flavors and balance. Recommended pairings include Tuna-Avocado Burgers, Lobster Rolls and Fettuccine with Salmon and Asparagus.

Details
¥ 6,300
2013 Rombauer Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

2013 Rombauer Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

While Rombauer’s Chardonnay is often the center of attention, their Cabernet Sauvignon is no slouch. A blend of mainly estate vineyards in Stags Leap, Atlas Peak, Mt. Veeder, St. Helena, Rutherford, Calistoga, and Howell Mountain, this Cab is crafted with the same meticulous attention to detail as the Chardonnay. Each year, a significant portion of the wine is barrel-fermented, which, with red wines, is a difficult, labor-intensive, even risky process. Instead of punching down or pumping over, each barrel has to be rolled by hand throughout the maceration. However, the reward lies in the rich and silky mouthfeel and in the early-drinkability of the wine. That Rombauer barrel-ferments even this higher-volume bottling is yet one more example of the value the winery seeks to give its customers. Try this complex, fruit-driven wine with rack of lamb, roast game or even a savory salad. 

Details
¥ 9,600