Rombauer 2015 Carneros Chardonnay

What a treat when a “mystery bottle” is actually kinda famous!

I’m pretty sure I didn’t buy this, so it must have been a gift bottle brought during our first WineKnow Chardonnay tasting.

This is a highly-respected producer. But I’m not much of a fan of Californian Chardonnays. Even the wines that retailers tell me have a light touch on the oak aging taste like butter bombs to me. Even the unoaked Calfornia Chardonnays still taste vanilla/butterscotch rich due to malolactic fermentation and high grape ripeness.

OK, so this wine was good. I’d even say it was great – for the style. It had been so long since I’d drunk a CA Chardy that I didn’t mind the flavor profile. And admittedly, this bottle had a lot less overt oakiness then so many of the other ones.


  • There is nothing inherently oaky or buttery about Chardonnay grapes.
  • All that oak, butter, vanilla and butterscotch comes from winemaker decisions, chiefly: 1) how much new (especially American) oak the wine ages in, and 2) whether the second, malolactic fermentation was done
  • I keep reading in wine magazines that Californian winemakers have turned away from the rich, buttery styles but I don’t know what they are talking about. It’s still almost impossible to find an unoaked Chardonnay that tastes anything like Chablis
  • Any CA Chardy you buy from a supermarket will almost certainly be in this style: rich (high alcohol), oaky, buttery. Think about some of the names! Buttercream, Butter etc.

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