The SOMM Journal

April / May 2015

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30 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } APRIL/MAY 2015 { hidden gems } "WHEN I WAS 20 YEARS OLD, MY GRANDFATHER TOLD ME to grow up. He told me to get out of the house and get into real estate." Salvatore Rombi remembers that day 43 years ago, and that impetus was all he needed. Since then, Rombi and his brothers opened restaurants in Monterey and Salinas. They sold them in 1990. In 1989, Rombi bought 16 acres in Carmel Valley at an elevation of 1,650 feet. Planting Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and some Petite Sirah, he hired viticulturist Todd Kanyon and from him, learned about root stock and clones, but even more important, "I learned about what style of wine I enjoy drinking." Although Carmel Valley is a warmer region than the close-by Santa Lucia Highlands, it still benefits from a marine influence: The Pacific is only 19 miles from the vineyards, and the higher elevation keeps the fruit cooler. Rombi, now a major land owner in the area, doesn't quite understand why the region has not gained more attention. "The major players are here," he insists, "but the area has certainly not come close to reaching its potential. Perhaps the older wineries settled here are struggling with their identities; we need some new blood." —Meridith May Rombi 2010 Estate Merlot, Carmel Valley Vineyard ($65) The chalky, rocky soils come through on the palate. Bay laurel, pine, manzanita, chamise (a native California shrub) and other mountain savories perfume the wine; Rombi refers to it as "herbes de Carmel." Exquisite. Rombi 2010 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmel Valley Vineyard ($85) Those same chalky tannins line the inside of the mouth, but the palate goes deeper and richer, that moun- tain bush fragrant and aligning with black berries. Broad and focused, striking acidity and above all, elegance. The tall, dark and handsome Rombi bottle. Laurel, Sage, Rosemary & Chamise ROMBI CARMEL VALLEY VINEYARD COMPOSES A MOUNTAIN SHRUB–INSPIRED DUET OF ESTATE REDS PHOTOS COURTESY OF ROMBI CARMEL VALLEY VINEYARD Rombi's Carmel Valley Vineyard estate property sits high above Monterey County.

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