2018 ROMBAUER Merlot Napa Valley

ROMBAUER Merlot Napa Valley

¥10,120 (incl. tax)

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While the rolling hills of Carneros are well-known as a land of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Carneros Merlot has been on a roll — and earning high scores, too. The cool climate and clay soils inspire compelling dark and red fruit flavors, savory spice and earthy notes, as well as excellent acidity and tannin structure. As in a right-bank Bordeaux, this wine is not 100% Merlot but includes 13% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Petit Verdot for additional tannin and structure. Uniquely, Rombauer strives for additional richness by fermenting some of the must in barrel, a troublesome process that few wineries would undertake with their red wines. The result is a Merlot that is plush and pure, soft and supple, a versatile wine that pairs well with such meat dishes as seared pork chops, braised lamb, as well as vegetarian dishes with meaty mushrooms. 


Winery Description

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.

About this Wine

Country USA
Region California
Appellation(s) Napa Valley
Winery Rombauer
Vintage 2018
Color Red
Varietal(s) 83% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot
Closure Cork
Volume 750ml
Bottle Size 7.5 x 30.5
Case Size 24.0 x 16.5 x 31.0
Alcohol 14.5%
Product Code RO18MR
UPC 097921871307

Owning & Enjoying

Tasting notes

91 points – Wilfred Wong/Wine.com.

Aromas of black cherries and ripe plums are accented with notes of anise, violets and mint. The palate offers flavors of plums, red currants, and figs wrapped in fine, plush tannins. The finish is long and aromatic. 



The grapes were destemmed and optically sorted. Following a cold soak for extracting color and flavor, about 25% of the wine was barrel-fermented. Aging comprised 15 months in 40% new French oak barrels.

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