Wine of the Day: 2012 Rombauer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Selection

While Rombauer is best known for their Chardonnay, over the last few years they have been refining their red wine program


Fruit for the 2012 Rombauer Diamond Selection Cabernet Sauvignon was sourced from the Rombauer estate vineyards and top grower vineyards in Stags Leap, Calistoga, Atlas Peak, St. Helena and Howell Mountain AVAs.  It is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon ,9% Merlot,  and 6% Petit Verdot.  All the fruit was hand-picked and sorted by hand in the vineyard.  After destemming and optical sorting, the wine was basket pressed before being racked to French oak barrels for malolactic fermentation and aging.  The wine was aged 18 months in new French oak.  The Diamond Selection, first produced with the 1994 vintage, represents the best lots harvested each growing season.

Dark garnet color with aromatic tobacco, blackberry, cassis, and spice aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied plus, and fresh with an alluring texture and polished tannins with cassis, blackberry, black cherry, vanilla, spice and hint of a leathery savory component with a long finish. Outstanding (90-91pts)

14.8%abv | $80 (sample)

Pair with: Standing Rib Roast, Boneless Beef Short Ribs, or Leg of Lamb.

About Rombauer Vineyards

Before I get to the Rombauer’s background,  I want to share a lesson I learned from this wine.

I suspect that most people (myself included) come to know Rombauer Vineyards by way of their award-winning, and immensely popular Carneros Chardonnay.  I’d go as far as to say that if Rombauer were a book, the Carneros Chardonnay would be  its proverbial cover.

With that cover in mind, when I received this wine as a sample, I thought it would be stylistically similar to the Chardonnay.  In other words, full-bodied, opulent, and creamy with plenty of oak influence.

Wow, was I wrong!

This wine isn’t the stylistic equivalent of the Rombauer Carneros Chardonnay.  For my palate, it shows better structure, and less overt oak influence while maintaining an alluring delectability.

Lesson learned (or at least reinforced;-) “Don’t judge a book by its cover”

On to Rombauer’s background

Founders Koerner and Joan Rombauer moved their family from Southern California to the Napa Valley in 1972 because it reminded them of the small town agricultural environment in they were raised, and they believed it would be a great place to raise their children.  After renting for a couple of years, the couple purchased a home atop a knoll on 40 acres in St. Helena.

They had no intention of starting a winery.

But they were bitten by the wine bug.  They became partners in Conn Creek Winery,  where Koerner learned the wine business from the ground up.

In 1980 they sold their stake in Conn Creek .  The family harvested their first grapes — Cabernet Sauvignon from Stags Leap District — marking the launch of Rombauer Vineyards.

1984 marked the release of their first wines – 1980 Cabernet Sauvignon and 1982 Chardonnay.

Today, Rombauer Vineyards remains a family owned and operated winery with first and second generations involved in the business.

They own 350 acres of estate vineyards in St. Helena, Carneros, Atlas Peak, Calistoga and the Sierra Foothills.  Additionally, they source grapes via long-term contracts with of Napa’s top growers.

Their St. Helena winery, which is built into a hillside, includes over 26,000 square fee of caves (ideal for aging red wines), and state of the art winemaking equipment.

For example, Rombauer was among the first wineries to adopt the uses of optical sorters – which scan each berry, rejecting any that do not meet their strict criteria.  They are the only winery in the world with three.

Of course it all begins in the vineyard, all vineyards are sustainably farmed and their estate vineyards are Napa Green/Fish Friendly Farming certified or in process.  Their sustainability practices extend to the winery as well.  Solar power provides 70% of their energy.  And, all green waste generated from the vineyards and winery is composted and used as a natural fertilizer, returning essential nutrients to our soils.

While Rombauer is best known for their Chardonnays, over the last few years, under the direction of Director of Viticulture and Winemaking, Richie Allen, they have been refining their red wine program.

In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, they produced Merlot, Zinfandel, a Bordeaux blend Sauvignon Blanc, and three dessert wines


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