The Thursday before Labor Day has been designated #CabernetDay since 2010. It’s another of those wine days created to highlight a specific grape variety. In this case, according to my interpretation at least, we are free to celebrate with any of the grape varieties that have Cabernet in the name. Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, of course, come to mind immediately. A quick glance at the invaluable reference written by co-authors Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding and José Vouillamoz (Wine Grapes: A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties, Including Their Origins and Flavours) lists 15 varieties beginning with Cabernet. It’s an interesting list of varieties, both crosses and hybrids, many of which were created for improved disease resistance. The list presents potential possibilities for many #CabernetDay celebrations to come. But I digress.
This year we are celebrating #CabernetDay with that most recognizable of Cabernets, Cabernet Sauvignon, produced by a most-recognizable Napa Valley producer, Rombauer Vineyards. We received the 2014 Rombauer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley from the winery.
2014 Rombauer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley — dark ruby-violet in the glass with generous aromas of dark fruit, cedar spice, dusty earth and hints of dried herbs. Fruit flavors tend initially toward red fruit, with some tartness, dark plum flavors round out the fruit flavors, along with cedar, earthy and leathery notes in the background. The body is on the lighter side of medium. Tannins are drying and linger with the flavors for a long finish. 14.5% abv. SRP $55
Grapes were sourced from various locations in Napa Valley including estate vineyards in St. Helena, Atlas Peak and Calistoga. The blend is 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Franc, %5 Merlot. Aging took place in 70% new French oak for 17 months after barrel fermentation.
This delightful Cabernet Sauvignon looks youthful in the glass but the flavors are well integrated. It is not light bodied, but is on the lighter side of medium compared to some Napa Valley Cabernets, which makes it a nice choice for a summertime red wine. Our food pairing, Port Wine Braised Short Ribs with whipped potatoes and steamed chard, was perfect with this flavorful, well-balanced Cabernet.
Your initial association with Rombauer Vineyards might be Chardonnay, but the family-owned Napa Valley vintners also make a range of Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel in addition to Chardonnay. A delicious Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, several Merlots and a collection of dessert wines complete the range of wines produced by Rombauer Vineyards.
In early in 2016 we had the opportunity to taste many of these wines at a media lunch hosted by the winery at the St. Helena production facility located along the Silverado Trail. It was an illuminating tour and tasting that changed my (at the time, one-dimensional) view of Rombauer Vineyards. In all, we tasted 15 wines produced by Rombauer Vineyards.
Another surprise of the day was the degree to which Rombauer has embraced technology in winemaking. NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) technology produces aerial photos that assist vineyard management in adjusting farming practices to achieve uniform ripeness and inform selective harvesting. After hand-picking and sorting in the vineyard, grapes are destemmed and further sorted using an optical sorter to insure only the best fruit is selected to begin the winemaking process.
At the time of our visit the Rombauer tasting room was undergoing renovation. This delicious Cabernet Sauvignon reminds me that it might be time to consider another visit to Rombauer Vineyards. In the meantime, thanks to the folks at Rombauer Vineyards for making our #CabernetDay celebration so delicious. Happy #CabernetDay!