2005 Chariot Gypsy

2005 Chariot Gypsy

Price: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per Zhadi’s Den “The label shows a woman in a red head scarf astride a chariot, very much in the vein of a Major Arcana tarot card. The back only says it was bottled by Jim Neal wines in St. Helena, California. Nothing about varietals. I have no idea what grapes were used in the making of this wine (although its rich, spicy characteristics lead me to suspect a zinfandel or syrah in the blend). The price tag? $4.99. The placard in the store said One Time Buy. When it’s gone, it’s gone. So I had to try it. We took it to the SinC meeting and cracked it open aong with an inexpensive Spanish cava. The cava was okay. The Chariot?

…Drooool…”

What I Think:

Wow, this Jim Neal guy (found on the back of the bottle) is a tough one to track down. But after spending some quality time with my friends at Google (your welcome!) I was able to get to the bottom of this one. I was able to track down both the site for the winery which is terribly out of date and in desperate need of my SEO (Search Engine Optimization) services and his first love which happens to be Verjus which I need to look into further (Jessie any pointers…). Fortunately for all of us, his wines are much more approachable than the brand behind them. As mentioned above I was tipped off to this one by Zhadi’s Den and immediately picked up three bottles. Those are now all empty and I am here to sing this wines accolades as well…

In a word “winner, winner”. The nose seemed almost typical California with rich, dark, musty fruit notes. On the palate it seemed very familiar; silky smooth and bold with heavy mint overtones. Then it struck me, this wine had a resounding resemblance to one of my favorites, the Rosenblum San Francisco Bay Petite Sirah. Despite Dana’s report that it is a blend of “Sangiovese, Petite Syrah, Syrah, and Cab” I am guessing this is 60-70% Petite Sirah minimum….And the remaining is likely Syrah (or at least mostly…) The finish was a lasting mix of dark fruits and dry, tingling tannins, extremely pleasant. Get yourself some now as I am heading out to clear out the bay area stores soon…

In the times of this economy I can unequivocally tell you this wine and the Franc Merlot are easily the best $5 bottles of wine I have seen at Trader Joe’s in some time. If you are used to spending $15 or more a bottle and stumbled across this site looking for ways to cut back your budget start here and start fast!

Rating: Bulk Buy

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90 thoughts on “2005 Chariot Gypsy

  1. @Danny damn never saw the ’06 here, what the….

    @Steve as mentioned the ’06 never made it to the bay area, getting bitter! At least to the best of my knowledge. I’m headed to the Midwest for the holidays and will bring back donuts… Sounds like you already have a deal with Laura thought :(

    @Trader Joe’s PLEASE stock this in the bay area!

  2. The 2006 Chariot hit the local TJ’s in the Fresno/Clovis area today and it’s flying out the doors… by the case, not the bottle!

    While I was there picking up my stash I saw 7 cases head out the door, and this was before they even had it on the sales floor. Don’t expect this one to sit around for very long!

  3. Charlie is my son and he got me to buy a case. Brought it home, wife said how can you buy a case without tasting. She tried it, got in the car and went right over to TJ and got another case. For the price it is an amazing bargain. I’d easily pay double (maybe more) for something this good. I think my TJ only had 4 cases left yesterday but more may be coming. Charlie also got my other son, Peter, to buy a case, untasted. What a salesman! This is a great everyday wine.

    Marvin

  4. Thanks for the props Dad!! Picked up yet another case this morning. Then, I promptly traded half of that case for half a case of the ’05 Chariot Gypsy that a friend had. Life IS good! :^D

  5. Jason, did you get any yet? My sister just picked up 3 cases at the Clovis TJ’s and she said they had a pretty good sized display.

  6. Well, you better “git-yur-heels-to-clickin’” buddy… they only had 7 cases left last night at the Willow/Nees store in Clovis. Maybe you can call them and pay for a case or two over the phone. Here’s their number: (559)325-3120
    [/temptation]

    Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! …

    :^D

  7. I just bought a case of the 2006 Gypsy at my local TJ’s in Burien (Seattle) today.

    I loved the 2005 blend last year and I think the ’06 is as good, or maybe even better.

    They had about six cases out on the floor and I think I will go back tomorrow and get another one before they are all gone.

    Cheers!

  8. I thought I was the only one that was loving this wine right now. I haven’t tried the 2005 but the 2006 is phenomenal and I’m not a big wine drinker. I have bought and gone through 3 bottles, and I think I’ll go back tomorrow to try and pick up a couple more before they’re all gone!

  9. TJ’s in Kirkland, WA, still had quite a bit of 2006 Chariot Gypsy stacked up on Sunday (12/14/08) morning, I’d estimate about 50 cases. I’ve enjoyed a number of bottles of the 2005 in the past and I bought 6 bottles of the 2006. I’d better go back very soon for a case!

  10. Alrighty then… I just received an email from Jim Neal, owner of Chariot wines. I emailed him a couple of weeks ago to see if we could straighten out some of the rumors regarding Chariot Gypsy.

    Here’s what he had to say about the 2006 Chariot Gypsy:

    [quote=Jim Neal]The details for the ’06 blend are: 50% sangiovese, 20% petite sirah, 20% syrah and 10% cab. The cab is from Napa, the other wines are from the Santa Lucia Highlands on the Central Coast. The alcohol is 13.9%. The ’06 vintage was classic California winegrowing weather. Hot as hell for a few months of the summer to get the fruit ripe, but cool in the fall prior to harvest which allowed us to let the fruit hang and dehydrate a little which concentrates flavors.

    Thanks to guys like you, my wines will be an ongoing brand for Trader Joe’s. They will have it exclusively as long as they want it, and I hope to have the ’07 in their stores sometime this Spring. There will be another wave of the ’06 before that, sometime after the first of the year I’ll release the rest of my inventory to them. [/quote]

    So there you have it folks… straight from the horses mouth! Great news for folks who missed out on this phenominally great, yet inexpensive, wine!

    Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good wine!

    ~Charlie

  11. WOW 06 is great! Best $5.99 I’ve spent. This wine is very smooth with a beautiful finish. Great fruit. I just love it. I picked up two bottles for Christmas eve and will be buying out my TJs when I can get back there :) Thanks for the pointers Jason!!

  12. great (the 06)… enjoy it quite a bunch,… found quite a bit of it here in the PNW area.

    have not let it “breathe” yet… will (try) to do that…

    :-)

  13. Just wanted to add that I’m not much of a wine drinker, I live near Poughkeepsie, NY and I’ve bought a few bottles of the Chariot Gypsy 2005 at a local wine store and I love it. Unfortunately the wine store charges $14.99 a bottle. Everyone is lucky for getting it by the case out in California. None the less $4.99 a bottle. By the sounds of it, this wine hasn’t made it much past Cali. But I have it here in the lower Hudson Valley of New York. Enjoy!

  14. @all must you keep rubbing it in. I have come to grips with the fact that this wine will never make it to San Francisco…

    @Charlie Thanks for the tracking Jim down! Been debating that one with Zhadi for a while, looks like I was wrong, thought it was more Petite Sirah :(

    @Tim Sucks that you are paying that much. If I ever find it perhaps I can send some your way…

  15. Does anyone have any idea when the next “wave” of the Gypsy will be released to Trader Joe’s (per Jim Neal’s quote!)? I keep checking with my local TJ’s and they’re starting to get a little irritable with me!

  16. Hi Lisa, I sent an email to Jim Neal last week asking that very question. I haven’t heard back from him yet, though I have exchanged phone numbers with the wine captain at the Clovis TJ’s in case he hears something before me.

    If/when I do hear back I’ll let you know ASAP. Apparently, all TJ’s order their own wine from a central locale. Consequently those in the know are anxiously awaiting any info so they can be ready to pull the trigger on their wine order as soon as the Chariot Gypsy shows up on their order screen.

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