Trader Joe’s Wine: Ten For Tasting

Trader Joe’s Wine: Ten For The Tasting
On Monday I received an email from Trader Joe’s promoting their Trader Joe’s Ten For The Tasting (pdf). When it first arrived I was worried that they had finally decided to produce a Trader Joe’s Top 10 Wine List of their own. Lucky me, looks like they are just trying to move some product. Here are the ten wines on their list:

I had actually been tipped off to some of these offerings a bit earlier via the insider scope from DP here. In the spirit of ten, I decided to make a list of my own. Some of their choices, some I’ve had before and others that I bought on association. My total bill? $76.40 which, for me honestly, is on the expensive side at $7.60 per bottle for Trader Joe’s. Hoping I got some good stuff so stay tuned for reviews. Now let’s get to the details:

The first 3 are from the above mentioned Trader Joe’s Ten for Tasting List:

  • 2005 Howell Mountain Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon ($15) – You could easily pay $60+ for this one. Needless to say I am looking forward to trying it tomorrow (suppose to be tonight but crab cakes replaced steak…) at a quarter of the cost!
  • 2008 VINTJS Sauvignon Blanc ($6) – After watching many of my fellow bloggers enjoy the St. Supery as part of Twitter Taste Live Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley was top of mind. Couple that with this one being a blend of Sauvignon Blanc (78%) and Semillion (22%), a combination I feel in love with years back in New Zealand on my honeymoon, and this one was an easy choice.
  • 2008 Flore de Moscato ($5) – I was thinking I needed a white dessert wine in the fridge and then this, more or less, appeared in my inbox. This one is a blend of Orange Muscat & Muscat Canelli. Vinography’s vote for orange wine didn’t hurt the cause either…

The next 3 were wines I had previously tried that I wanted to revisit:

  • NV Porto Morgado Ruby Port ($7) – A nice companion for the white dessert wine this port is, as I previously said, “a perfect low cost option for dessert wine when you have friends over. Taste good and lets the conversation flow.”
  • 2008 Caretaker Pinot Noir ($10) – I tried this one fresh into the bottle and felt the potential and wanted to revisit once it had a chance to settle. Thinking it now has and the recent comments are raising my expectations.
  • 2008 Honey Moon Viognier ($5) – A wine I’ve long enjoyed but somehow never reviewed (until yesterday). Some may call it too sweet or syrupy. I call it the perfect alternative for red wine, given its full body, on a hot summer night.

The last 4 were bought on positive associations:

  • 2007 Dr. Jebediah Drinkwell’s Meritage ($9) – Another product of the Central Coast Wine Warehouse which has produced some gems. A bit pricey but given my experiences with the Franc Merlot, Pancake Cellars and the above mentioned Caretaker Pinot I wanted to give this one a try.
  • 2008 Picton Bay Pinot Noir ($8) – I have an affinity for New Zealand. I have an infinity for Pinot Noir. Even more so for finding nice ones for <$10. Given my experience with the Picton Bay Sauvignon Blanc (which I thought was $6 and now appears to be $8) this one was a no brainer.
  • 2007 Shannon Ridge Zinfandel ($6) – I’m always on the lookout for an easy drinking affordable Zinfandel and have been a fan of those I’ve experienced from Lake County especially the Beringer Clear Lake Zinfandel. Suggested retail price on this one per the winery website is $19, promising at a third of the cost.
  • 2008 Shannon Ridge Wrangler Rose ($6) – My pursuit for a summer rose goes on. Given the Zin was the same price this seemed a bit pricey. Still, recommended retail is $16 per the site and it is a screwcap so what the heck…

Let me know if you decide to taste any of those I passed on or if I might be missing some of your other summer favorites. Cheers!

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10 thoughts on “Trader Joe’s Wine: Ten For Tasting

  1. Let the Meritage breathe for awhile, or decant. I found it a little rough around the edges on the first night, but it was enjoyable the second night. On your scale I would put it somewhere between Buy It and 12th bottle.

  2. I picked up a bottle of Dr. Drinkwell’s at TJ’s last time I was there. I couldn’t resist the idea of a Cab Franc heavy blend, either, and I also thought the Franc/Merlot performed well for the $4 price.

    There is a Cab Franc sold as “Trader Joe’s Petit Reserve 2007 Cabernet Franc” at one (but not all) of my local TJ’s for $6. It’s pretty oaky, so the Cab Franc flavors are a bit obscured, but it is a good drink. The labels says it’s from “Familia Nueva Vineyards” in Creston, California. Any idea who these people are? Never heard of them, so I’m thinking they’re a second label of a well known winery or producer.

  3. I don’t know if you have a World Market in your neck of the woods, but you might want to look out for Mulderbosch Rose. It’s from South Africa and one of my favorite Roses. A bottle at WM runs about $10, but I’ve seen it elsewhere for $11-13

  4. My Captain is all about the Cab Franc. It definitely needs elbow room and a lot of air as well as some boldly flavored food to show it in its best light.

    The Howell Moutain tasted promising from the front and mid-palate, but then the Tannin Monster sat on the back of my tongue and sucked all the life out of it. Hopefully this can be fixed by just leaving it alone for a few years.

    Yeah, I’m guessing Corporate will probably be doing “features” rather than “Top Ten” by taste, at least so far. The Tasting Map on the newsletter is kinda cool and the tasting notes are useful handouts for us in the store.
    Besides, no one can replace you my dear ; )

    BTW, The Domaine Alfred Syrah ($15) was pretty tasty, a “toothstainer” in the CA style and I kinda liked the VINTJS Pinot Noir: Santa Lucia Highlands ($9), definitely not a “light & friuty” wine, but one with a little more substance. Also, since I liked the other two offerings, I want to taste the VINTJS Cabernet Sauvignon ($10).
    Awaiting the arrival of the Pouilly Fume & Kono back in the store so I can give them a try as well.
    We’re doing our “Around the World Sangria Tasting” next week (hopefully) and I’ll report back with any findings.

  5. You know, I’d heard good things about the Howell Mountain. But in the blind tasting we did, I didn’t think it was anything special and lots of people guessed it was one of the cheaper ones. I’ll be curious to know what you think when you’ve tried it.

    Ashley’s post also reminded me: Any chance at all you could do a review of wines from World Market? We really need that!! They are mostly value, so we really could use expert guidance. And some of their stuff isn’t available elsewhere, like a few of the Cameron Hughes wines. Pretty please with sugar (but just a little, balanced by acidity) on top? ;-)

  6. @joshiemac Good job of lowering my expectations, at $9 this one needs to over deliver at this point IMHO…

    @Greg I saw the Petite Cab Franc but got confused and passed. On my list for next time. Familia Nueva is responsible for many of TJ’s branded. private label wines from CA. Once I have the bottle I’ll do a little more investigating

    @Ashley Do have World Market in NorCal but don’t shop there much. That said, I just added the Mulderbosch to my @klwines shopping cart. I’ll let you know what I think!

    @Angela As I mentioned to @Greg this Petite Cab Franc confused my but I’ll definitely grab a bottle next visit. As for the Howell Mountain, it sounds as if I liked it a bit better than you. Thanks for the kind words on the Top 10!

    I’ve heard good things about the winemaker at Domaine Alfred, worth $15? As for the VINTJS series, I wasn’t a fan of the last Trader Joes Grand Reserve Pinot Noir and I think this is made by the same folks (Adler Fels) if I recall directly. Enjoyed the Sauv Blanc, as I believe you did as well. As for the Cab only heard on take and it was negative… Dying for an opinion on the new offerings from France, Gigondas and Vacqueyras, which are both $12+. Let me know if you have any scoop on these…

    @Carmen As mentioned to @Angela, I was a fan of the Howell Mountain, looks like the majority of opinions line up more closely to yours though. As for World Market I’ll see if I can find another blogger willing to take that on. For me, most wines at World Market fall closer to $10 and are massed produced, tough to find value IMHO. Certainly a generalization but directional on my overall thoughts…

  7. I tried the VINTJS 2006 Cab, very lush, full bodied, my son and I really enjoyed it. Try it for yourself I think you’ll find this one to be enjoyable.

  8. @Gary Thanks for the note, Perhaps I’ll give it a try. There are just so many other $10 bottles of wine I want to try that I haven’t been able to pull the trigger yet!

  9. I LOVE the Flor de Moscato from TJ. I recently went in to find it and its gone. I dont shop much there, but am wondering will it be back? Is TJ like Costco? You may find it once and then never again?

  10. I bought the VINTJS Pinot Noir (Willamette V) blindly and have really enjoyed it. I have never found an excellent Pinot Noir, except from France that I really enjoyed. This one is very light but still with a nice delicate taste. I will going back to Trader Joe’s to get some more.

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