2007 Rootstock Zinfandel

Price: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

2007 Rootstock ZinfandelMy initial Google search returned nothing. The back of the bottle noted that this one is made by DnA Vineyareds which I recognized from two previous offerings; Trader Joe’s Captain’s Catch and the TBD Zinfandel. The DnA Vineyards site hardly exists hasn’t been updated in ages. Failing on that front I decide to give the COLA registry a try and learned that the Mendocino Wine Group is ultimately behind this one. They are responsible for numerous labels with Paraducci being the most widely known offering (and for football fans the Mike Ditka wine label which I didn’t know existed…). Neither Rootstock or DnA Vineyards are mentioned on the site. Looks like yet another TJ’s orphan wine!

So what did the bottle have to say? “Combining four different Lodi Zinfandels and blending in a special lot of Lodi Petite Sirah gives this succulent wine added depth and color. This wine is full bodied and round with very integrated tannins that lead to a long and silky finish. The mouthfeel harbors licorice and cedar with a slight fennel note in the background. Versatility is the key here when considering what food to pair with; burgers, pastas and grilled veggies all work wonderfully.”

What I Think:

Reading my review on the TBD Zin which also was mostly Lodi Zinfandel I can’t help but wonder if this isn’t almost the same juice, with the same winemaking team under a different label. I find myself playing the role of skeptic as I put this on the table to pair with meatloaf.

So, what’s in the bottle? On the nose you are greeted with bright, hot cherry notes. On the palate this one is big & fruity but mostly one dimensional. You think a spice component is going to emerge near the mid palate but it quickly falls apart. The wine then turns hot leading to a slightly chalky finish before the heat once again emerges and lingers on. This one is not to be had on its own (IMHO), much better with food. But then even still it is rough around the edges. I may be being a bit harsh but couple my experience with the $6.99 price tag and I am not likely to buy this one again. By the way to my earlier point on playing the skeptic, my notes on the TBD Zin don’t sound all that different. But then again I do always enjoy a good conspiracy theory…

Rating: Skip It

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10 thoughts on “2007 Rootstock Zinfandel

  1. I recently spotted this mystery wine on my local TJ’s shelves and like you was initially unable to find anything about it on the web. Thanks for shedding light on the wine’s dubious roots. The brand also offers a Syrah, but I’ll take a pass, even at $6.99. As Ben Franklin said, “Never buy something you don’t want just to save money.”

  2. You and others do a superb job of editing out the clichéd, redundant, superfluous, second-rate and just plain pointless wines, so the winners are well documented.

    In the wine-dark pool of admittedly better than average plonk sold at Trader Joe’s you can find among the many frogs, toads and sea urchins an occasional starfish, even in the bottom-feeder Charles Shaw offerings.

    Under $5, the Shaw “Down Under” Australian chardonnay (so far still good), Il Valore Sangiovese Giovane (a young wine, as printed on the label, but tasty after it airs out for a few days), and the flying pig La Granja Tempranillo actually taste like wine rather than its chemical equivalent. They are all good for cooking or easy drinking as everyday wines.

    Between $5-10, the choices expand: the Trentatre Rosso (my favorite TJ bargain Italian red), Rendition Zinfandel (spread on toast), Mission Point and Castle Rock Mendocino Pinot Noir (rare to find good examples of this grape at low prices), Norton Malbec (Argentines rarely produce bad wine) and King Shag Sauvignon Blanc (nature is blessed in New Zealand) have all been repeat choices. The Zonin prosecco and surprising Contadino pinot grigio (but only the vivace) make for pleasant drinks. Most of the rest deserve to be thrown back into the tank or served anonymously.

    Michelangelo described the vernaccia of San Gimignano as a wine that “bacia, lecca, morde, picca e punge” (“kisses, licks, bites, heats, and stings”). Not many, if any, TJ wines under $10 rise to those heights, though.

  3. @Ernie Thanks for the tip!

    @Under Thanks for the kind words (and to everyone else for your help!). The Down Under Chard, Il Valore and La Granja are all faves (and excellent values) of mine at <$4. Can't think of another one to add to that list! In the $5-$10 range as you are likely aware I rated the Trentatre #1 in my latest Trader Joe’s Top 10 Wine List. The Castle Rock, King Shag and Zonin are on my go to list as well. Haven’t seen the Norton Malbec but would gladly give the Grape Madness champion another shot. As for Michelangelo he could have very well been describing the under $10 price category in wine but trying to prove him wrong is part of the fun! At least for me…

  4. After tasting this one, I have come to the conclusion that they should change the name of the “vineyard” to DnR. (as in Do Not Repurchase).

    I would (and do) gladly fork out the extra 3 clams for the Trader Joe’s Reserve Sonoma County Zin (by Mazzocco Sonoma).

    Also of note is the 2008 TJ’s Grower’s Reserve Petite Sirah (@ $5.49 here in MA). This one needs some air time as it is a bit young, and has some initial notes of road tar on the nose, but it is very nice at this price and improves greatly with decanting.

  5. Hi Jason,
    We appreciate you trying our wines. We only have our business cards up on our web-site because that is all we want out there for now. We work entirely on a wholesale level and so we’re rarely in contact directly with consumers.

    We make wines for lots of grape growers and wineries throughout CA. We love a chance to make a special blend for Trader Joe’s private label program….that is a great store and their custom wine buyer travels all over the world constantly in order to bring their shoppers the darn best deals on wine that are possible. We are lucky enough to pass their rigorous tasting panel and get a product on the shelves sometimes!

    We often design the label (as in the case of Rootstock) and then we
    usually blend and bottle the wines at Mendocino Wine Co (formerly Parducci Wine Estates) because they are the best custom crush facility around. We also make organic wines and MWC is certified to produce those as well. As you saw on the TTB site, they do custom crush for many, many folks- that’s
    the art of negociant wine-making and this practice significantly helps all wine producers cut their costs in order to give consumers better wines at lower prices, but it does not mean that the custom crush facility is related to or blended those other labels just because they were crushed and/or bottled there.

    Each wine we make for TJ’s is made at a different time to take advantage of a specific great deal that we’ve found and blended, so your conspiracy theory although intriguing, is incorrect. There is a LOT of zinfandel in Lodi!!

    Thanks for tasting our wines and we hope you’ll always find them a great wine for your money (and your table).

    Dennis & Andrea (DnA) Patton

  6. Speaking of Trader Joe’s Reserve Zin, they just got in the new TJ’s Reserve Dry Creek Valley Cab ($9.99), also from Mazzocco Sonoma, and my initial response is one of great enthusiasm.

    I AM finding the 07 cabs from California to be a little thin compared to previous vintages, but the fruit is fantastic.

    This one looks like a real winner!

  7. Trentatre Rosso rocks and is a great bargain, if that is what you are looking for…I am sorely disappointed in this wine, agree, and am opening a different bottle, though I am not entertaining!

  8. I tried Rootstock 2007 Zinfandel last evening. I must say it was perhaps the most atrocious wine ever to grace tablespace with food
    of any description.

    As a professional Chef for the past 35 years, I would be remiss indeed if I did not alert anyone who was curious enough to think about trying or purchasing this wine to keep their money in their pockets. It was, in a word, ‘atrocious’.

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