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?


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 I was able to track down both the site for the winery which is terribly out of date and in desperate need of my SEO (Search Engine Optimization) services and his first love which happens to be Verjus which I need to look into further (Jessie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. Opened a bottle of ’05 tonite to celebrate my daughters high school graduation. What a great wine! There’s only one problem… the bottles don’t hold enough wine!! ;^D

  2. I work at a TJ’s in the Seattle area, and just tried the ’07. It is a tad lighter-feeling to the palate than the ’05 and ’06 offerings, but this may simply owe to the fact that it is released at a relatively younger age than its predecessors. On the other hand, its taste has me wondering if there is a bit more of the Petite Syrah in the blend this time around. Research on Neal’s past efforts indicate that he has employed Syrah as the core grape, with Petite Syrah as the chief minority component. The present edition seems to reveal more of the Durif characteristics than have been in evidence heretofore, so it would be interesting to find out if the percentages of ingredients has shifted a bit. It is very tasty, regardless of the formulation, but this version seems a bit brighter and spicier than the ’05 and ’06 editions. I’ll definitely buy more!!

  3. Scot, it was reported earlier in this thread that the ’07 vintage is made up of the following:
    37% Cabernet
    33% Zinfandel
    10% Pitite Sirah
    10% Syrah
    10% Sangoviese

    I’ve sent an email to try and confirm (or correct) that. Hopefully we’ll get to the bottom of this in short order.

  4. I found this wine at Trader Joes in Westlake Ohio and immediately bought 4 bottles after doing the taste test for ten cents! WOW! Excellent!

  5. I agree with Scot above that the ’07 is a little bit brighter and spicier than the ’05 (never tried the ’06, unfortunately). My friends and I loved the ’05, and I’m happy to say I have a few bottles stashed away for special occasions in my future.

    Read our thoughts and comments here…


    …and if you know where we can find some more in the SoCal area, please leave a comment!

  6. @Kathy Glad you enjoyed it, I added Westlake Ohio to the list

    @Allison Thanks for tip, I added Lake Oswego as well…

    @Jesse Thanks for the comment, I’m tracking availability over here

  7. Where besides trader joes can I buy chariot gypsy by the case. Trader Joe is out and said they don’t know if they can get anymore. Help

  8. Just found this at Trader Joes in Royal Oak, Michigan last week and bought 8 more bottles yesterday. I really enjoy this wine!

  9. First found the 05 Chariot and my reaction was wow. Bright fruit, spice, great nose and smooth finish. Went back for more and told all my wine friends about this wine. 06 seemed to go in a flash, very few bottles no notes of it for me. 07 is different form 05. A little bolder and heavier fruit, and the finish is not as smooth, but a delightful versatile wine. This wine is for the present, still have 2 bottles of 05 but it really doesn’t get any better, prehaps the wine gets a bit more acidic as it ages. Bought 2 cases of the 07, great value at just $5. Great with pork , chicken, and meaty pastas.
    I would like to see a bit more Sangiovese added for a more
    nuance balance to the wine, a little softer fruit note with a longer more velvet finish. Prehaps 20% Sangiovese.

  10. We bought some bottle, maybe a year ago??? and knew it was winner, but when we returned the Trader Joes had sold out in the ENTIRE Greater Phx. area. We went on line, tired to track down the winery, where else to purchase, as we frequently travel to Paso and Napa and N.Sonoma Cty…”no,one time buy…blah,bla” Well it hit the shelves a couple a weeks ago and we bought a couples cases this time..and it will not last long enough to see how age affects the taste…one of the best red table wines that we enjoy and serve with pride, knowing our guest will enjoy. Trader Joe included Chariot Red in last months flyer…you have to act fast and buy when it becomes available again. I have no idea what the blend may be…only that we love the wine.

  11. A coworker of mine told me that if I see this wine for sale at Trader Joes, buy the whole case! The girl that I work with is a wine connoisseur & works for the wine & spirits industry. She told me that this wine was made from the leftover grapes from the top vineyards in California. She gives me all the chisme on wine!

  12. Hey all,

    I wanted to let everyone know that the 2008 Chariot Gypsy is scheduled to hit shelves soon. You can find more information here. I look forward to hearing what you all think!


  13. thank you for the update, thank goodness we have two stores within a few miles of our home….let’s stop telling everyone we know about this gem…so we get our haul of wine…

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