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

 Best of Trader Joe’s Wine - Top 10 Wines of November 2008

Many months have come and gone and with the holiday season upon us now seems an optimal time to revisit my Top 10 Trader Joe’s Wines. Perhaps you can use it to pick out some economically sensible gifts for the winos on your shopping list. Let’s get to it…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 Top 10 will be provided in parenthesis and those that have fallen out of the rankings will also be noted. Now for the main event!

1. 2006 Dynamic Red Table Wine – $9 (Previous Rank: 4) – Wow this is good, somehow missed the depth here initially. Fantastic bottle for the price. Grabbed a case, you should too while you can, that is if you can make your mortgage payment…

2. 2006 The California Wine Party Franc Merlot – $5 (Previous Rank: 1) – Debate season is over but I am still enjoying this one like it is October… My most purchased Christmas gift…

3. 2003 Alderbrook Old Vine Zinfandel – $8 (Previous Rank: NR) – This one had fallen out of the ranking as it was unavailable. I lamented I should have grabbed more. Well it reappeared and I grabbed a case! (review not yet posted, stay tuned…)

4. 2006 Chiusa Grande Tommolo Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo – Thanks to @oenanist for putting this one of my radar. I have been enjoying it regularly and it is my new favorite in the Italian section.

5. 2007 King Shag Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc – $7 (Previous Rank: 5) It’s winter, but this is still good with salmon…

6. 2004 Santino Sierra Foothills Zinfandel – A nice, easy drinking Zin. For $4, sign me up! Better yet this one is from the Sierra Foothills which @Megan recommends and I need to explore more.

7. 2007 Novella Synergy Blanc – $6 (Previous Rank: 7) –This has a little more pairing versatility than Sauvignon Blanc and is still the “other” white wine of choice.

8. 2006 Geyser Peak California Sauvignon Blanc – $8 (Previous Rank: 3) – This one is suffering a bit as it is best had on its own, in shorts, watching the sunset. Did I mention it snowed in San Francisco this morning? (link is for 2006)

9. 2006 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Carmenere – $8 (Previous Rank: 8) – The weather is getting colder and this is getting better. At least from a pairing perspective. Goes great with chili!

10. 2005 Epicuro Aglianico – $5 (Previous Rank: 6) All the Epicuro offerings are well worth the money. You won’t be disappointed if you chose this, the Salice Salentino or the Nero d’ Avola. Get’em all!

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

2005 Santa Ynez Valley Winery Cabernet Franc – $9 (Previous Rank: 9) – My latest bottle was nice, but hey this is Trader Joe’s wine we are talking about. For $9, nice doesn’t cut it. (link is for 2005)

2007 Chateau des Cleons Muscadet Sevre et Maine “Sur Lie” – $6 (Previous Rank: 10) – A nice, light refreshing wine has a hard time getting opened during the winter. This one needs frequent flyer tickets to the southern hemisphere.

Gone – sadly these appear to no longer be available…
2005 Chariot Gypsy – $5 (Previous Rank: 2) – Rumors of the ’06 abound with sighting in SoCal and Fresno, nothing in the Bay Area yet…

Let me know what you think. Did I miss any? Feel something is overrated? Would love to hear your thoughts!


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27 thoughts on “Best of Trader Joe’s Wine – Top 10 Wines of November 2008

  1. Tasted some TJ whites recently. I’m not a fan of the 2006 JW Morris Chenin Blanc at $2.99 or the Zarafa (South African) Sauvignon Blanc at $3.99….The 2007 Gaetano D’Aquino Pinot Grigio del Venezie at $3.99 has some redeeming qualities (pineapple nose, grapefruit and sour black licorice flavors, quaffable—-ie I was able to finish the bottle versus having to toss almost all of the other two down the drain ) , but I doubt I’ll buy another bottle……Also, Jason, isn’t the Espiral Vhino Verde a no alchohol or low alcohol (<2%) wine?

  2. jason, i went to trader joe’s in sf last night and i couldn’t find the dynamic red. any interest in swapping a bottle from your case with something from mine? maybe a pascual toso 07 malbec or 05 show?

    and, i think the march madness wine bracket is a great idea!

  3. Nice list Jason, I started following this last month after searching around in the hope of finding exactly this :)

    I can add to the rumor of 2006 Chariot, I am on my third case :) My wife and I both LOVE the Chariot and were very disappointed when it sold out. A couple of weeks back I noticed about 10 cases in my local (NorCal) TJ’s and snapped up a case. The wine tasted even better than we remembered but we just put it down to an extra month in the bottle thinking maybe first time through it had a little “bottle shock” going on. Well, that case came and went and two weeks ago I was in the same TJs and there was another 10 or so cases! Snagged two and again, really nice fruit, smooth, oh so drinkable!

    It wasn’t until I read the November list that it even occurred to me it might be a different vintage! I rushed home last night to check and sure enough, I have two (well, one and a half now ;)) cases of 2006 Chariot.

    Not sure where you are based but I think you will be very pleased when you get your hands on a bottle/case/pallet of this one :D



  4. @Jason – Folsom, near Sacramento. I don’t have any plans to be in the Bay Area any time soon or we could arrange a back alley exchange or some such ;-) Do you have any friends/family in the area?

  5. @Jason-Thanks. I must have been looking at a different wine with a similar spelling on its label.

    Have been questing with white wines lately. Can’t bring myself to buy either the 2006 or 2007 TJ Coastal Chardonnays (about $3.99) that the TJ clerk keeps recommending as the best value white in the store. Anybody tried them or any other TJ white? Willing to share your findings about the good and the bad?

    I’ve recently tried a white from Italy I found at TJ’s: 2007 Gaetano d’Aquino Orvieto Classico (around $5) has a beautifully filtered and crystal clear, pale gold color with delicate aromas and flavors of lime and honey. Key word is delicate, The finish is persistent, subtle and dry. Would work as an apertif or with mild seafood. Not a quaffer. Not a fruit bomb. But worth a try if you like the hidden allures of an honestly made feminine style wine (which I, more often than not, don’t) that will test you in your attempts to seek out and discover its whispering treasures.

  6. drinking the geyser peak sauvignon blanc while fixing dinner – not bad for an $8 bottle of wine.

    as for owing you a bottle, the salinia is waiting for you in your office.

    and, finally, the bracket…i’m in…we should start trying to figure that one out. i’ve given it some thought, but not fully fleshed out yet.

  7. Howdy all,

    Hope your Holidays are going well.
    @Danny: I’m not sure about any current private labels but the Chateau St. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc is fairly nice, especially at $7. I like the Novella Muscat Canelli ($9) as well. It’s friuty with some crispness (if I remember correctly) and goes great with strawberries. I haven’t tried any of the Coastals yet, but I’ll ask our Wine Team.

    BTW, the winner of the Port Tasting was…the Zinfandel Port ($10) 375 ml
    (sorry I’m not recalling the correct brand name. It starts with an “E” Evenus maybe? Art Nouveau lady on the label)

    The Kodo chocolate wine ($9) was a “you’ll either love it or hate it” situation and I agreed with the later. Yuck, get that off my tongue pronto!

    We were also quite surprised about the inexpensive Tawny Porto ($6) in the black bottle (sorry again about forgetting the proper name y’all.
    Too much celebrating and my family’s been sick) Tasty and a good value

    I’ll be going through the new sparklers right before New Year’s and post my findings hopefully just in time for a last minute sprint to the store.
    BTW, don’t forget to check your local store’s hours for Xmas Eve and New Year’s Eve as some stores (such as mine) are closing at 6:00 pm.

  8. Just wanted to give my novice review of a “new item” I couldn’t resist at TJ this week. Picton Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2008. $7.99 from New Zealand. Screw top. Almost clear in color. I like it. Sauvignon Blanc is my favorite of the moment, and I tend to compare all of them to Kim Crawford which I love because of the definite grapefruit taste.

    Picton Bay is definitely citrus-y, but not as much grapefruit; more lemon-y aftertaste that’s refreshing and dry. REally enjoying it.

  9. Jason – I’ve really enjoyed your advice thsi past 12 months. I live in Paso Robles – lots of good wine around but the prices are getting out of line. Its great to be able to piclk up a reasonalbe bottle of wine for $5 rather than the normal $20+ at the wineries.

    I went to TJs to get the 2004 Santino Zin, but not to be found. The manager recommended the 2003 Santino Syrah, $4.99, so I picked up a couple of bottles. It has a pleasant nose and is very mellow. A little jammy for a syrah, a few earth tones on the finish. All in all a good wine – I’d recommend it.

    Happy New Year!

  10. Hey y’all,

    Boy, was New Year’s Eve a madhouse!
    (I worked the Wine section for a few hours)
    Lots of folks looking for cheap and/or sweetish sparklers at the last minute. Never thought I’d be pushing the Asti, but for the price point ($6), it seemed the best bet for a number of people. Tried to discourage folks buying the Peach & Almond flavored stuff (Ick!) and had to apologize that we had sold out of all of the high-end items: (Veuve Clicquot, Schramsberg, Mumm) so early.

    The results of the latest sparklers tasting was that there wasn’t anything remarkable. Finally got a chance to taste the Zonin Proscecco. It was the nicest of the bunch, light & slightly lemony, but not good enough for a
    “Crew Choice” award. We had a new Champagne, Charles D’Embrun ($25) that was fairly nice and tasty when cold, but from memory I still liked the Piper-Sonoma ($13) better. I’ll work a re-tasting into the schedule before Valentine’s Day and let you know.
    Next up, hopefully German wines.

    BTW, the Michel Leon Gewurztraminer($8) is lovely. Off-dry, floral & fruity, but it shows best at around 60 degrees. Lower temps brings out a sharpness that seems to disapate when it warms up. (Been having fun with my new infra-red thermometer)

    Happy New Year!

  11. @Danny Seems like your TJ’s Merlot Coastal experience may answer the Chard too. Did you end up trying it? I’ve had the Orvieto before and enjoyed it. Still have a bottle here but white in the winter is a rarity for me. Happy Questing! My wife asked for a bottle recommendation this weekend and came home with a Benson Ferry Chard. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    @rjh still bummed you didn’t like the Geyser Peak. Perhaps in the summer we can try again. I have the Salinia here, maybe Ill get to it this week. Just finished the Vinum Petite Sirah and thought it was rather average. And, yes, the brackets are definitely on…

    @Angela I think the “black bottle” of inexpensive was highly likely to be the Porto Morgado. Have a bottle here and it is nice. Though I think I prefer the Ruby for an extra fifty cents.

    @dip I’ve seen that Picton Bay, I’ll grab a bottle. As for you have you had the King Shag?

    @PRA thanks for the kind words! Bummer you struck out on the Santino Zin, I had the Syrah as well and it was certainly quaffable, though it seems TJ’s has many Syrah’s that fit this category and price point. That is why I was excited about the Zin. Seem much harder to come by.

    @rhdaily Pretty sure someone mentioned the Les Caves Joseph Bordeaux before. I’ll add it to my list. Thanks for the recommendation.

    @Angela Thanks for the bubbly tips. If you are aiming for both a bubbly retest and German wines next perhaps this Sekt would be a good place to start!

  12. Hi,, Jason. I rolled the dice and tried the Charles Shaw 2007 Chardonnay from Trader Joe’s. Wow! Quite a nice surprise and quite the sleeper. Here’s my review: Recommended! Pale champagne in color with aromatic notes of dried pineapple, green almond, honey and flowers; moderately intense complexity of pear, lime peel, honey dew and fennel flavors; and a pleasingly moderaterate finish of lemon and flint. Incredibly smooth; slightly
    more reserved than the very, very popular 2006 Charles Shaw Chardonnay, but just as good in its own right; clear, clean and 12.5% alcohol. It’s a no brainer to buy one bottle of this wine at $1.99 to see if you like it. Serve chilled to well chilled

  13. quick question i had purchased D’AQUINO PINOT GRIGIO from the store that they were no longer stocking the wine what happend the bottle was unusal in shape and the wine was pretty good

  14. I saw Chariot 2006 Pinot Grigio at my So.Cal TJ tonite ($4.99). I did buy one bottle, but wanted to know if anyone has tasted it and had any reviews? I will try it tomorrow. Does anyone know if it’s worth going back and buying more before it’s sold out? there were only about 3 cases out on display.
    Thank you,

  15. well, i tried the Chariot Pinot Grigio. Right out of the bottle, I did not like it at all. But after it breathed a little, the second glass is growing on me. I’m a big fan of Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. This is not as citrus-y or nice as that. I do taste a hint of pear; it is dry. Slightly harsh aftertaste. I’m not sure I’ll buy another bottle.

  16. @dip Thanks for checking out the Chariot Sauv Blanc for us. I have to admit to a moment of weakness. Despite knowing your take, I succumbed and bought a bottle this morning. If for know other reason than I can imagine it is the Gypsy…. Trader Joe’s! Jim Neal! Hook me up with some Gypsy!

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