Rombauer 2009

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Heard it from a friend,

who heard it from a friend…

Actually, I heard it from my boss, who got it from his boss that the Rombauer was a pretty good wine.  Come to think of it, that almost works with the melody from the REO Speedwagon song as well.

To be honest with you, for me to review a California Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa is a little like being a Turkish tour bus driver, “and on your left, you’ll see a Greek ruin, then on your right you’ll see a Greek ruin, and up ahead, yet another Greek ruin.”  Okay that’s probably a little harsh.  While the ruins in Turkey are plentiful, they are nonetheless both magnificent and beautiful.  You can say the same for Napa wines, and in the case of the Rombauer, a very good one.

So as a change of pace, let’s review the wine first this time.  At the pop of the cork you are met with a fantastic aroma, easily my favorite part of the wine experience.  A heavy fragrance of plum and spice rises from the bottle to greet you.  The plum theme carries over to the color, which blends with some crimson.  At first taste you will find this is a powerful wine; big and bold, but well-controlled.  You’ll taste the spice and dark fruit up front, it’s a Cabernet from California, which means no surprise there.  The Rombauer brings everything you’d expect from a California cab to the table, which includes the $40 price tag.  I know I’m being a little boorish and I apologize, but I swear you could push a stick into the ground in California and in three years you’d be making Cabernet Sauvignon from it.

As you can tell, I’m a bit hesitant on Napa wines.  With such a wide variety, and in my opinion with most of them tasting more-or-less the same, I find it difficult to separate the exceptional from the rest of the pack.  All of this makes me wonder, where do you get your info on wine?

According to Vinitaly, Wine Searcher is the number one resource wine drinkers use to find wines.  I’m surprised, I would have said Wine Spectator, but that was number two.  Wine Searcher gets the edge because in addition to recommending all these fine varietals, it tells you where you might locate the wine you are looking for.  Their mobile app is annoying as hell, though, because it locks up and the only way to clear it is to delete the app and reload.  Wine Searcher was the first web based wine resource to out-rank the traditional magazine format, so web development aside it still is a fantastic research option.

Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast are probably the best known publications, and if you love wine you likely subscribe to one or the other, or possibly both.  Each are great for finding out the biggest trends in the industry, both have developed web-based options that cater to a 21st century online readership, and they feature some of the most knowledgeable insight into the world of wine.  That being said, both want to sell advertising, and the ratings will usually have a direct correlation to  which wines are spending the most for ad space.  I may be in a grumpy mood towards them, but I’m also pretty sure I’m right.

My favorite web-based wine resource is SNOOTH: great continent, captivating stories, interesting reviews, and I don’t get the feeling they are trying to sell me something, which is strange because they undoubtedly are.  On the other hand there is WTSO (Wines Til Sold Out), and trying to sell you something is the only thing these guys do.  Shamelessly commercial, this website puts up one bottle of which they might have 10 to 100 of cases to sell, and that bottle remains up until sold out.  I like the site because it gives me ideas on wines I might like to try.  One other site I would recommend is Wine Folly, great for the beginner, and really, aren’t we all beginners at heart?

You may have heard about Lot 18.  I’ve heard good and I’ve heard bad.  It’s based in Westchester County, New York and was started by the guy who started SNOOTH, Phillip James.  My vote is stay away.  You need to subscribe like a wine club, and I’m told the values aren’t all that great.  Then again, I’ve also been told the deals are great and the wines are super.  I’ve never use them so I can’t tell you, but my feeling has always been when in doubt, live without!  If anyone has had good luck with Lot 18, let me know and ease my skepticism.

Do you use Twitter?  I know Twitter can be a social media cesspool, but if you stay on subject you should be safe, and some of the stuff you pick up with just a few seconds of reading is just amazing.  Here is a list of people or organizations I find beneficial to follow: Bon Appetit, (great food ideas and sometimes wine pairings), Food & Wine Magazine, (they have great cocktail recipes), Jancis Robinson, (famous wine critic with some good ideas), Wine Spectator (daily wine recommendations in three price levels, the only trick is finding them), Robert Parker, (snobbish, & overbearing, but some good picks), db Dinks Business (get the insider view, written mostly for people working in the booze business), James Suckling, (people love to hate this guy, I have no idea why), and Eric Asimov (wine critic for the New York Times, I hate the Times, but I like this guy).  Oh and lest we forget, follow Griffy on Wine @jgriff4039!

That’s all I’ve got for now, see you soon, and I’ll try to less of a curmudgeon!

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