2015 Rombauer Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Winery

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.

Wine

Purple-black in hue and brimming with bold cherry, blackberry and spice, Rombauer Cabernet is bottled pleasure that you can savor today or years from now. Sourced from vineyards in Stags Leap, Atlas Peak, Mt. Veeder, St. Helena, Rutherford, Calistoga, and Howell Mountain, this Cab combines extraordinary terroir and exquisite craft. 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 grilled steaks, rack of lamb, or braised beef shanks. 

Winemaking

After the primary fermentation in a combination of stainless steel and barrique, the wine is racked to French oak (80% new) for 16 months’ aging. 

Tasting notes

90 points – James Suckling. Aromas of red and black cherries, cassis, cinammon sticks and cloves precede a mouthful of juicy boysenberry, raspberry, cedar and vanilla. Supple tannins and layers of fruit linger on the finish.

Appellation

Napa Valley

Varietal

84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, 6% Cabernet Franc

Size

750ml

Closure

Cork

Alcohol

14.5%

UPC

097921872106