Similar Sips Rombauer Chardonnay

Similar Sips: Rombauer Chardonnay

Let’s talk about Rombauer Chardonnay, one of the most beloved wines across the nation, known for “celebrating the joy of wine.” They even print it onto their corks. The tagline originated from the founder’s aunt, Irma Rombauer, who penned the internationally renowned cookbook, “The Joy of Cooking.” I think we all have a copy floating around our house. Rombauer Vineyards sprouted its first vines in 1980 and released their inaugural Chardonnay in 1984, just two years after Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay made its market debut. Rombauer and Kendall-Jackson made a lasting impression on the world by shaping the very style that would define California Chardonnay for decades. Today, Rombauer Vineyards crafts approximately 175,000 cases of this celebrated Chardonnay annually.

‘The Joy of Wine’

I wholeheartedly concur with this sentiment, but I’d hate to see wine enthusiasts confined to the Rombauer rut. Life is far too short to limit our celebrations to a single brand. While Rombauer’s Chardonnay is renowned for its buttery richness, it’s important to remember that Chardonnay is as versatile as clay in the hands of a winemaker. Their choices throughout the winemaking process significantly impact the final product. Depending on factors such as vineyard location, grape harvest timing, and post-harvest treatment, the wine’s characteristics vary widely. Buttery Chardonnay, for instance, typically undergoes malolactic fermentation, is aged in new oak barrels, and is subject to lees stirring.

Now, you might wonder, what’s all that jargon about?

Malolactic Fermentation

Malolactic fermentation, or MLF for short, is the process by which harsh malic acid turns into softer lactic acid. In simple terms, it transforms sharp, apple-like acidity into a smoother, milk-like one. Think of that brisk bite into a green apple; you won’t find it in a buttery Chardonnay, but you can in those that skip the malolactic fermentation. In the industry, we often abbreviate it to MLF or just “malo.” So if someone mentions that a wine goes through 100% malo and then ages in new French oak barrels, and you’re a fan of buttery Chardonnay, you’re likely to adore that wine.

Barrel Aging

Barrel aging is a common practice we’ve all seen, with towering stacks of wine barrels nestled in cellars worldwide. These barrels are charred on the inside and used to age wine. The charred interior serves as a filter, extracting undesirable flavors while infusing subtle notes of vanilla and caramel. American and French oak barrels exhibit distinct characteristics; American barrels impart hints of dill, coconut, and vanillin (imagine the aroma of baked goods in a grocery store), while French barrels offer more nuanced notes like vanilla, spice, and cream. The first year of aging is when the barrel has the most influence, and by year four, the wood’s impact is minimal. These barrels are often repurposed for furniture, decor, or sold to Scotch whiskey distilleries.


Lees stirring, sometimes referred to as “battonage,” involves agitating the yeast that has settled at the bottom of the barrels during aging. The more contact the wine has with the yeast, the creamier its texture becomes. In blind tastings, sommeliers often detect notes of sourdough bread or Greek yogurt, with the wine’s body taking on a more substantial and creamy character.

So, if you or a fellow wine lover find yourselves frequently reaching for the blue and white-labeled Rombauer bottle, it’s time to try something new! These wines we’ve gathered are equally creamy and rich.  deserving of their own celebration.


If you are stuck at the grocery and need something in a pinch- try the Arsonist Chardonnay– an under $20 option. 



If you just can’t resist Rombauer, we do have a special running for the rest of the year. A case of twelve bottles for $500 plus taxes- delivered to your door. Email us to set a delivery date.