Rombauer is undoubtedly a powerhouse of a classic California Chardonnay.
Originally founded back in 1980, with the first vintage of their Chardonnay sliding onto the scene in 1982. The wine was propelled to national stardom partly thanks to industry veteran Robert Lloyd.
Robert Lloyd was a long-time winemaker for Rombauer, having also worked with Simi and La Crema, among many others.
While he may have left Rombauer in 2008 to pursue his own ventures, there are still traces of his signature style.
That said, newer vintages have a bit more richness and power than previous vintages. So if you are revisiting this bottle for the first time in a long time, walk into it with an open mind.
Rombauer Chardonnay Review
While Rombauer offers a wide range of wines, including their Cabernet and Zinfandel, which are both hits all on their own, I would argue that their Chardonnay is one of their best and most iconic offerings. It is sourced from a region in California called Carneros.
Carneros is unique in that it is situated in both Napa and Sonoma. That said, the juice for this bottle comes from the Napa Valley side of the region.
The wine has a bright, intensely golden color to it in the glass. It is dense and waxy, with fast forming and fast falling legs.
This bottle smells strongly of margarine, baked apples, and sawdust from cedar wood.
Lemon meringue pie, cream, and baking spices readily pour out of the glass. I get lots of clove and brown sugar, which overtake the fruit after a short time.
This is a bottle you can smell for miles. Swirl it, set it down, stand up, and you could probably still smell it from the table to your nose.
Put your nose in the glass, and you’ll be enveloped in a velvety blanket of velvety smooth, buttery goodness.
In a word, intense. This wine is oaky, slightly sweet, and features concentrated flavors throughout. Fresh apple pie, salted butter, and vanilla are the first things I notice with this wine.
There is a bit of tropical fruit, think baked pineapples, that really rounds it out nicely. I’ve noticed this to be a bit of a giveaway in wines from the Carneros region.
The mouthfeel is quite viscous, and the wine sticks with you thanks to a very prolonged finish. There is a nice bit of acidity to back everything up, and it helps to make the wine more succulent than saccharine.
What does Rombauer Chardonnay pair with?
Think luscious here! You really want to match power with power. I recommend buttered lobster rolls, Cornish game hens, and grilled pork chops as options for your main dish.
Alternatively, this can be an excellent pairing with a richer style of she crab soup, and the texture of the wine will meld right into the velvety mouthfeel and flavors of the crab.
If you have a bit of a sweet tooth, this wine has you covered there as well. I really enjoy drinking this wine with upside-down pineapple cake, which really helps to highlight the richness of the wine without getting into cloyingly sweet territory.
What wines are similar to Rombauer Chardonnay?
I would recommend trying some of the other California classics, such as Cakebread Chardonnay or one of the offerings from Ramey.
Outside of that, I would recommend Lloyd, Robert Lloyd’s self-titled Chardonnay, which falls into this category.
If you really want to splurge, go for Moone-Tsai’s Napa Valley offering. It keeps a lot of the intensity and decadence of this bottle with a bit more structure and acidity and feels almost like a California take on Chassagne-Montrachet.
Overall a solid California Chardonnay. One sip of this wine, and you will immediately understand why it is an industry staple.