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.

Ana Diogo-Draper Amador Tempranillo 2017

*** My review and rating from

Love the label! Looks like Spanish/Portguese tiles.


“Was pretty skeptical of Tempranillo in the USA. Love the wines of Rioja and Toro. But figured that the winemaker would “pump up the volume” (like Americans are wont to do) on the wine and lose the typicity.

Instead, my wife and I both enjoyed it tremendously. Medium bodied, bright red fruit (imo a bit fruitier than the typical Spanish tempranillo but that’s just fine) and pretty classic tobacco aromas. Very smooth tannins too. 

Lovely wine enjoyed with portobello mushroom ‘steaks.'”

WineKnow Facts:

  • If it’s red and it’s from Spain, chances are that it’s made from Tempranillo grapes.
  • If it’s red and it’s from the Rioja, Ribero del Duero or Toro regions of Spain, it’s either 100% or mostly Tempranillo.
  • In Portugal, Tempranillo is called Tinta Roriz. It’s one of the primary reds of Portugal and one of three primary reds blended in Port
  • Tempranillo makes wines that are bright ruby (NOT dark purple/black), medium-weight and fairly fruity with high acidity. I think they taste similar to Chianti wines (which are made with Sangiovese grapes). However, I’d say that Chiantis tend to have a bit more tannins and have more of a cherry fruit flavors.