For years, Rombauer has dominated restaurant wine lists and stores nationwide. In an era where buttery, rich Chardonnay is decidedly uncool, somehow Rombauer almost singlehandedly upholds this category. In fact, Rombauer Chardonnay is the 3rd most popular restaurant Chardonnay pour, according to the Wine & Spirits 2016 Restaurant Top 50.
What’s behind their continued strength? We took a visit to Rombauer Vineyards to find out.
Fun fact: those ubiquitous Joy of Cooking that are a fixture of households nationwide? They’re written by Irma Rombauer, none other than the great-aunt of founder Koerner Rombauer. In other words, these are wines created by a family with an innate understanding of food and wine pairings. So while some might feel that Rombauer is too buttery, we say: its creamy, nutty roundness, cut through by lemony acidity, makes the perfect compliment to slivers smoked salmon on créme fraîche.
Some wineries have significant variation between vintages year over year. Rombauer, on the other hand, remains wonderfully consistent. You know what you’re getting, every year. This is potentially due to careful attention to winegrowing techniques. For all varietals, the fruit is handpicked at night, allowing for the selection of higher quality grapes, as well as optimal freshness. For the Chardonnay, the recognizable signature is a toasty, buttery profile balanced by crisp acidity. For the Cabernet, the signature lies in a dark, ripe blackberry, black cherry, vanilla and spice profile.
New World Approachability
Rombauer knows their target audience. With such pronounced, fruit-forward aromatics, suffice it to say that Rombauer wines would not go over well in France or Italy. But Rombauer struck gold on American palates with that rich, bold profile.
Final note: the visitor experience at Rombauer Vineyards is an absolutely lovely way to spend a day in Napa. While the tasting room is pretty standard, what makes the winery stand out is the lovely garden and picnic grounds right outside the winery. It’s rare to find a vineyard where you can purchase a bottle, and then wander out to a picnic that perfectly overlooks such scenic, rolling vineyards below. The tables are available on a first-come, first-served basis and do not need to be booked.
Visit the Rombauer site to learn more.