Best of Trader Joe’s Wine – Top 10 Wines of September 2008

If you arrived here and are interested in the latest top 10 list, click here. Otherwise please read on.

Another month has come and gone making it time to revisit my Top 10 Trader Joe’s Wines. With the seasons changing I thought whites might become scarcer but the weather in my neck of the woods is still doing plenty to encourage early evening quaffing with the sun setting in the background. Without further adieu…the ground rules; wines listed all have to have been either purchased or available during the month to which the post refers. The rankings from the previous month will be provided in parenthesis and I will provide some details on those that have fallen out of the rankings. With two new entrants in the top two spots this month let’s get to it.

1. 2006 The California Wine Party Franc Merlot – $5 (Previous Rank: 2) – Perfect for the debate season, get some before tomorrow night!

2. 2005 Chariot Gypsy – $5 (Previous Rank: NR) – Reminds me of my favorite wine ever, at a fraction of the price.

3. 2006 Geyser Peak California Sauvignon Blanc – $8 (Previous Rank: 1) – Seasons are changing but this one is standing the test of time. (link is for 2006)

4. 2006 Dynamic Red Table Wine- $9 (Previous Rank: 6) – Perhaps you could say this is a much more elegant version of the Franc Merlot. Certainly worth every penny but a bit pricey. (review not yet posted)

5. 2007 King Shag Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc – $7 (Previous Rank: 10) Enjoy this one more and more each time I drink it.

6. 2005 Epicuro Aglianico – $5 (Previous Rank: 9) This one has made it back into my rotation and reminded me why it was ranked number one for so many months in a row.

7. 2007 Novella Synergy Blanc – $6 (Previous Rank: 7) –Mistakenly referred to as Chardonnay last month, while the name has changed the enjoyment factor has not. A great white blend that will surely please all.

8. 2006 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Carmenere – $8 (Previous Rank: 8) – Still dependable but with the Franc Merlot and Chariot Gypsy in the picture getting relegated to the back burner. (link is for 2006)

9. 2005 Santa Ynez Valley Winery Cabernet Franc – $9 (Previous Rank: 4) – Like the Carmenere this has been a bit overshadowed by the excellent Cabernet Franc blends available right now. Still, looking forward to the next bottle soon. (link is for 2005)

10. 2007 Chateau des Cleons Muscadet Sevre et Maine “Sur Lie” – $6 (Previous Rank: NR) – A nice, light refreshing wine made to be consumed on the patio with friends on a warm summer evening.

Falling – these have seen their stock fall over the last month…

2005 Kono Sauvignon Blanc – $8 (Previous Rank: 5) – It may be the hideous new label throwing me off here, or the $2 extra per bottle versus the King Shag either way it has at least temporarily lost its luster.

Gone – these appear to no longer be available…let me know if you have seen them!

• 2003 Alderbrook Old Vine Zinfandel – $8 (Previous Rank: 3) – Should have gotten more of this one while I had the chance…

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19 thoughts on “Best of Trader Joe’s Wine – Top 10 Wines of September 2008

  1. JohnnyB – I’m at the point that I take one of $5 favorites from Trader Joe’s, like the Franc Merlot, out to dinner and pay the $10 corkage. At $15 it is usually much cheaper than the least expensive bottle on the menu…and much better!

  2. Thanks for all your lists and guidance. You make my job of Crew Member Tastings that much easier. BTW, the Clay Station Viognier we have in right now is delicious and much better than the Bear’s Lair for the same price point ($3.99)

  3. Thanks for the comment! I’m glad your with us on No on Prop 8! And I appreciate your suggestions from Trader Joe’s! I’ll give a few a try and let you know my thoughts.


  4. @Angela – My pleasure, wish I could join you for one of those Crew Member Tastings. I tried to grab the Clay Station Viognier on my last visit but they were out. I’ll keep trying and let you know! Thanks for the recommendation, look forward to hearing some more. I’ll consider you my inside source :)

    @Mike – Think I tried that one back in my preblogging days but will add it to the list. I have struggled finding Italian’s from Tuscany and Piedmont that have agreed with me. That said, your recommendation was enough to get it on my shopping list. Stay tuned!

  5. Had a bit of fun a couple of weeks ago.
    Blind tasting to see if the Crew could “Find the Shaw”.
    We did the Shaw Chardonnay against La Crema ($16), the Cab against Clos du Bos ($12?) and the Merlot against Geyser Peak ($10?)
    Most folks had a pretty tough time and only one person got all three right.

    The Shaw Chardonnay, to me, was easy to tell, the Shaw Merlot tasted like paint thinner (nasty!) but the Cab was much more difficult to pick out and wasn’t horrible, but not great either.

    BTW, I don’t usually drink Chardonnay (I prefer Viognier, etc) but the
    La Crema was a very pleasant surprise, something I would actually consider buying and a number of the Crew members agreed with me. I think it was the favorite of this tasting.

    Keep up the good work!

  6. That sounds like fun tasting Angela. Perhaps I will try it with my friends… I’ve had the La Crema before and it is nice but $16 is well north of my standard price tag and if I am splurging it will not likely be on Chardonnay :) Please keep the updates coming, having an inside source is awesome!

  7. Yeah, it helps to be able to taste for free. ; )
    I’ll let you know how the Spanish Wines measure up tomorrow.
    Oooh, there’s a new late harvest Riesling in the Germany section for $8, gotta put it on the Tasting List for November.

  8. Alert! Michel Leon Gewurztraminer is back, at least at my store (Alameda).

    The Spanish wines were OK. Didn’t like the Raimat at all, but the Abrazzo del Toro Syrah/Cab/Merlot was nice ($8?) and I liked the Marques (sorry I’m not remembering the very long title: $11)

  9. I can’t believe there are none of the Gaetano D’Aquino wines on this list. All the varietals are fantastic specimens of lower priced Italian wines between $6.99 and $12.99 I want to say). I buy 4 bottles of the Pinot Grigio everytime I visit TJ’s.

  10. Jason,
    How do you like the 2006 Chariot Gypsy? I’m having my mom bring me a case from a SoCal TJs, where they still have quite a bit of inventory, and was wondering how it compares to the ’05. Thanks.

  11. @Angela The Michael Leon was nice but I much preferred the Marcel Hugg. Any idea if that one is making it back? Grabbed a few new Spanish wines (Albero) and Portuguese (Callabriga) on my last stop. Stay tuned…

    @Mamikaze I’ve had a few of the D’Aquino offerings and they are usually well under $6 here, that said the results are marginal. Much prefer the whites to the reds. They recently got a new one in, the Orvieto. I’m digging that one.

    @Milby Still haven’t seen the ’06 Chariot in the bay area. Angela? Anyone else?

  12. Totally agree on the Aglianico. That’s smoking wine for 5$. Have you tried the the Contitemente Valpolicella for 4$? Or the 5$ Garnache imported by Jorge Ordonez? They’re both great.

  13. I’ll check on the Hugg. Probably a one-time buy, but I’ll ask the rest of the Wine Team.

    BTW, our store is planning on getting the Zin Port (cute, small bottle, fairly tasty if I remember correctly: $10) as well a Chocolate Port ($-$$?) in for the holidays. I’ll hopefully get a chance to include them in the tastings this week & next week and let y’all know in time for last minute party supplies and/or gifts.

    Jason, have you had any of the Maderias we carry?
    I wanted to include one in the tasting, but haven’t tried any yet.

    BTW, thanks for the shout out!
    Talk to you soon.

  14. Pingback: Jennifer’s Budget Holiday Shopping Guide « That Darn Cat

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