2006 The California Wine Party Franc Merlot

2006 The California Wine Party Franc MerlotPrice: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per corkd.com “Recent find at Trader Joe’s. The nose has an intriguing mix of earth, fruit and herbs (rosemary? basil?). Good tannin & some fennel. The taste has some luscious blackberry and an herby finish. Different, and I really like it. Much more interesting than the typical $5 wine.”

What I Think:

As I mentioned here this one is a winner. I backed up that sentiment again ranking the Franc Merlot #2 in my Top 10 list of Trader Joe’s Wines and even more so when I cleaned the last case off of the shelf at my local TJ’s last weekend. All that said I am a sucker for Cabernet Franc and this one is heavy in that department (70% Cabernet Franc, 26% Merlot and 4% Petite Sirah). Given a varietal bottling of Cabernet Franc can rarely be found for less than $10 and we have a potential steal on our hands already!

On pouring this one in the glass you find a great nose full of spice and peppers. Slightly green but in a pleasant way. You can tell it is heavy on the Cabernet Franc as the characteristics shine through. That said the fruit is a little more robust here. It is smooth up front before cherries burst through the peppery undertones. The soft tannins stay in the background and the chewy, cherry flavors linger on leading to a long dry finish. One word of caution put it away if your dessert comes with chocolate. That said buy a case for every other occasion! This is the best $5 red I’ve had at Trader Joe’s in quite some time.

Rating: Bulk Buy

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17 thoughts on “2006 The California Wine Party Franc Merlot

  1. I didn’t find it that interesting – got a lot of burnt oak and vanilla both in the nose and in the mouth. Tasted like a lot of other cheap American wines I find at Trader Joe’s and elsewhere. I’ve found a lot more winners at TJ’s in the imports section.

  2. @David Sorry to hear that…

    @Ryan Been meaning to get back to you here (and on your site as well), sorry you didn’t enjoy it. I had another bottle tonight to make sure I still did. If you like Cab Franc we have the Santa Ynez Valley Winery Cabernet Franc in San Francisco which I enjoy. There is also another Cab Franc blend, Dynamic Red Table Wine. Both run $9, don’t want to lead you astray again but these might be worth a try…

    @umoree00 glad you enjoyed!

  3. The name of this wine perfectly describes it. It was a pleasant blend, appropriate for a “party” / multi-course meals, where a non-blend/more sophisticated or expensive wine would have clashed with too many dishes to be properly enjoyed.

    Thanks bundles for recommending this one. As with nearly all foods and wines, nothing will please everyone, but this one offered both above average quality without sharp contrasts (i.e. less likely to clash with the wide variety of food at our party).

  4. Had a chance to sample two merots recently. The results: (1) I thought the Trader Joe’s 2006 Coastal Merot @ $3.99 might have the great 2006 Calif central coast wine harvest going for it. Unfortunately, it was quite horrible, at first. After breathing a bit, I found the nose to be an intriguing combination of melon, raspberry and vanilla. Alas, the flavors persisted in falling way short, alternating between cherry cough syrup, flat cherry and flat grapefruit. Yuk. I’m being kind by saying that I’m not a fan of this one. I think this wine is so bad that it could be found guilty of perpetrating a crime (ie Ripoff) against the consumer,(2) Columbia Crest Grand Estates 2005 Columbia Valley Merot @ $7.99. Aromas of briary blackberry, roses and sassafrass with flavors of bright, sweet cherry, pomegranate, cocoa powder and smoke—gentle tannins and a long pleasing finish of mildly sour cherry; full bodied and plum purple in color. A winner, IMHO. Definitely worth a purchase of one bottle, with potential as a candidate for a case purchase. Couldn’t find it at TJ’s-found mine locally in SoCal at Ralphs grocery store, part of the Kroger chain of grocery stores.

  5. Was curious about the 2006 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot [ $7.99 @ TJ's, $7.99 @ Ralphs and presently $7.49 @ Bevmo on special (down from $9.99) for a limited time]. So I decided to give it a try. It’s a slightly softer, slightly restrained version of the 2005, but it went down very easy for me and even quicker than the 2005–a real pleasureable quaffer! Exciting. This one would fall into your “Buy it” category, Jason , I would think, as would the 2005, but each wine has different merits. Went well with my dinner of mac ‘n cheese and salsbury steak.

  6. @Gavin Glad you enjoyed it. I’ll have to keep this one in mind for easy to pair with food…

    @Danny Haven’t tried any of the TJ’s Coastal series, seems like it will be staying that way. Plenty familiar with Columbia Crest as I’ve enjoyed many of there wines including the ’03 Two Vines Merlot which was $6. Awesome work comparing the ’05 and ’06. If you get a chance grab a bottle of the Two Vines and let me know where that fits in.

  7. My TJ’s just restocked the ’06 Franc/Merlot and after reading the blog a few months back I grabbed a few bottles – Loved it, even 2 days after opening it. It seems pretty versatile too. Just wanted to throw my two cents in.

  8. I found it this weekend and enjoyed it so much I did a web search. I’m a franc fan to start. Also, have to say more impressive on day 2 than day 1- may need a little time to be more accessible for some.

  9. I am so bummed. I don’t understand why this winery doesn’t really exist. 1 time buyout for TJ’s. Will they ever make any wine again???? It’s all very mysterious, but dang that wine was goooooooooooood.

    I want some right now!!!!!!!!!

  10. @G Glad to hear it, the wine is still available here in San Francisco.

    @Dan Again, glad to hear it struck a chord with your palate as well…

    @Rima Though the winery doesn’t exist they have more offerings flowing into the Trader Joe’s. Check out the Pancake Cellar Big Day White and Caretaker Pinot Noir if you want to sample their other offerings. In the meantime we will keep our fingers crossed for an ’07 version of the Franc Merlot.

  11. I just discovered this wine about a month ago. I picked it out on my own simply by the blend and the price.

    This is my new favorite table wine. I drink it with pizza, and it’s even good enough with nice cheeses at TJs too. Not only is it my new favorite daily wine, it wins by a mile. I have found, that the somewhat dry finish really smooths out if this wine breaths for a bit.

    I do believe this is the best under $10 bottle I’ve ever had. I’ve spent even more and gotten less. I hardly ever buy by the case, but I might just get a case of this stuff.

    My only complaint is TJs doesn’t have enough locations. I have to drive far to get my wine, but large brand crap costing well over $10 can’t even touch TJs under $10 wines and The California Wine Party Franc Merlot wins my heart for VERY drinkable budget wine.

  12. I just tried this and loved it. Went back today and all the TJ’s here in Illinois are sold out. Do you have any recommendations for anything similar available at TJ’s? Have you seen/tried the 2007 yet?

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