It’s (almost) back! The ’08 Gypsy looms…

Chariot GypsyFor those that know this blog the introduction above serves aplenty. For those that don’t, the Gypsy is as close as it gets to a Trader Joe’s cult wine. That’s right, a $5 cult wine. What’s that? A cult wine has to be expensive? I disagree, it only has to inspire wide spread passion! And trust me this one does. I’ve written three posts on this wine and those compose my top three commented post, generating almost 200 responses. Over the weekend, the buzz over this one kicked into full gear. RMS first tipped me off after noticing the ’08 vintage mentioned on the Chariot Wines website. Angela, my Trader Joe’s insider, added shortly thereafter that the new vintage is scheduled to appear in the next Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer. At almost the same time Jerry, who tipped me off to the ’07, checked in to let me know he had the scoop that this one will be appearing in stores before the end of February. Since you are all my friends I’ll be more forthcoming, Angela let me know that the next Fearless Flyer is scheduled for February 16th. Given that we can expect to see this bottle in stores within the next two weeks…

So what can we expect from the wine? I think the big question is can they maintain the quality as they expand the production. For the ’07 vintage the demand was so high that I am all but certain they produced two different versions of this wine. I have seen many old Trader Joe’s favorites journey this road to mediocrity which leaves me plenty skeptical. Hopefully my angst is for not. We will know shortly! I’ll look forward to hearing all your thoughts once this one hits the shelves. Until then, here is what the winery has to say about the latest vintage:

    “The Chariot Gypsy 2008 is a delicious blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and Sangiovese from great vineyards in the Napa Valley, Sonoma, San Joaquin, and Monterey counties.

    Winemakers Jeff Hunsaker, Marco DiGiulio and Nancy Walker describe the wine like this: “The 2008 ‘Gypsy’ displays a dark garnet color with a clear violet edge. It shows mixed fresh berry aromas — raspberry and strawberry, with hints of white pepper and pastry. Very clean and lively with juicy berry fruit, firm acidity and a touch of smooth tannin. Excellent and versatile food wine particularly well suited for pork chops and poultry”.

    We think it is the perfect everyday red wine!”

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41 thoughts on “It’s (almost) back! The ’08 Gypsy looms…

  1. Jason,
    I wholeheartedly agree with your enthusiasm.

    I discovered Chariot Gypsy early last fall at the TJs in Chula Vista a couple days after the shipment arrived. I bought one bottle on the passionate recommendation of a store employee: before the week ended, I returned to buy a case of this captivating wine. This wine became an instant fave! I have successfully paired the Gypsy with bbq pork ribs, pasta, and beef lasagna. For the taste, balance, and price ($5), this wine is sure to recruit more members to the cult following that you have described.

    I have also heard the same news from the Chula Vista store of the imminent arrival of the new vintage. I am so excited!

  2. If you didn’t know, you might think it’s a Pinot. Not at all like the 07. Light, not sweet. Subtle mid palate. I like it …. maybe 3-4 cases, but it’s not the wine I was expecting.

  3. Just bought an ’08 bottle at TJ’s in the Pasadena area. 0120101105.
    Found it to be… unremarkable. I’ll give it another try tomorrow.

  4. @Angela Thanks! Not sure how difficult it is but have some people from Phoenix asking as well if it is easy enough

    @Michael Where did you pick it up? As for the ’07 I do have a case+ left. I’ll do that test tomorrow. On the DC Gypsy story I am pretty sure they released two batches/versions last year.

    @David Thanks for kicking off the bottle code conversation. My 1st bottle is coded 0201100831. I bought 6 total (that was all they had) and 3 had this number and the other 3 ended in “30″. Given the other numbers I have seen it sounds like this is a daily case run counter. If that were the case looks like we’ve documented 1/20 as the earliest date and 2/1 as the latest, let’s assume they bottled for 12 days. 1,129 cases is the max. Multiply those out and we are looking at 13k+ cases. Seems feasible but it is wild conjecture at the same time. Guessing this is a legal requirement, someone in the industry could likely tell us what it all means. I’ll see if I can figure it out…

    @Andy thanks for the tasting notes and bottle codes. My take is this years version has softer rounder fruit than previous incarnations. Guessing it will change by the day at this point as the bottle settles…

    @Seamus Thanks for the comment, hope you enjoy the new vintage. Make sure to come back and let us know what you think

    @Mike As mentioned I did find the fruit on this one softer and rounder. I am sure this is at least partially tied to the decrease in alcohol (13.9 to 13.5). Even still it would be a big Pinot!

    @Steve At $5 I shoot for “very pleasant” which I think this one is heading towards once it gets to settle into the bottle. Easily as good as 1/2 the $12 bottles I drink. Let us know your thoughts tomorrow.

    Thanks for all the comments all. Keep’em coming. I’ll plan on getting an initial post up tomorrow but for those that just can’t wait to hear more here is my horrible attempt at video blogging my car tasting of the ’08 Gypsy. Stay tuned for more!

  5. You should title that video “The Chariot Gypsy Project” ;)

    Thanks for the updates, Jason. I’ve been too busy at work to hit up my local TJs to see if it’s in stock here in the east bay. Maybe I can sneak away tonight…

  6. Picked up 2 case last night in Irvine (Woodbury location). Nice wine. As others have stated, it is different than the ’07. You can almost see your hand through the glass. Nose of red fruit, white pepper and menthol. Fruit forward wine with some pepper and oak. Medium body with some structure. Not sweet like the ’07. Great everyday wine.

  7. Wow! Are you kidding me? This winner has a QPR which is off the chart, in a good way. The 2008 Chariot Gypsy is an excellent multi-purpose quaffer that offers enticing aromas of bright, wild, red berries, smokey toast and spice leading to fresh, red fruit flavors with a white pepper core and a zesty finish of orange peel and dark chocolate. Easy, smooth and delightful. My rating, as converted in conformance with Jason’s Wine Blog ratings, is “Bulk Buy.” I think this wine would be great with pizza, burgers, BBQ, steak, lamb, meat stew or by itself. I’m told that the Irvine Trader Joe’s has an allocation of 90 cases and no more. When they’re gone, they’re gone.

  8. Of all the Chariot Gypsy vintages to date (2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008), my favorite still remains the 2006, which I would happily serve with prime rib on Christmas Eve. Nevertheless, the 2008 comes across to me as a more practical performer that would easily stand up to any special social occasion, such as the next time the the football team from my alma mater, Stanford, thrashes UCLA or USC, like they did this past season. Did you catch that UCLA92?

  9. Just got back from the Sunnyvale location. Big front of the store display with probably at least 500 bottles in the display. Bought 3 bottles, will be my first year trying the Chariot.

    Also had to get a couple more 2007 Trentatre Rosso :)


  10. Walked into my Lafayette TJ’s tonight right before closing and I was happy to see a whole bunch of Gypsy cases sitting on the main floor. Must have been 20 still wrapped up, seemingly right off the truck. Took a case home for myself. I know I should let it setttle but I also know that I won’t be able to wait.

  11. I’m dying to try this wine at the suggestion of a friend but am without a Trader Joe’s anywhere close to where I live. Is there ANY way to get a couple bottles shipped to me? I’m in Nebraska. Thanks

  12. Yup, this is a pretty solid effort by Chariot standards — in other words, an excellent QPR wine by Trader Joe’s standards, and a true steal by most other standards.

    I just poured my first bottle of the ’08 to a group of friends following a Sauv Blanc tasting. After all that tart acidity, the Gypsy came on really strong and jammy, but once our palates had acclimated to the fruit, it proved a big winner. Doesn’t change in the glass or “open up” as much as previous vintages did, probably because it’s a bit less full in body and intensity, but the flavors are definitely still there. I agree with what’s been said… this is a more versatile wine than the ’07, if slightly less uninhibited.

    Here’s to hoping that the whole production run tastes this good!

  13. I posted this in the video comments as well…

    I live in the Bellevue/Redmond WA area. I just called the two stores and here is what I was told.

    Redmond: “Oh we only get that once a year and we already had and sold out of the ‘08 in November”. That just can’t be right, could she have been referring to the ‘07?

    Bellevue: “Hmmm… the computer has every kind of code listed for this wine. It has a code showing it’s being featured, on order, out of stock and discontinued.” This is a little more promising.


    I guess I’ll be calling or stopping by the store on a regular basis until it arrives.

  14. Do we know yet how far eastward the Chariot has been distributed? Jason – - do you have a way to know when we’ll see it in the DC area? THANKS!! [[ps if there's a shortage in CA, you can blame me... I told a ton of friends and they've raided their local TJ's ! ]]

  15. What is going on? Still not here in the portland(Or)/ Vancouver area. Just called my local TJ’s and they have no idea when they will have it in. Sad day!


  16. Hiya,

    Unfortunately I don’t have access to East Coast availability, but I’ll see if I have any notes about Maria’s area.

    Many wines come to different regions at different times and most of the time the Order Guide is more helpful than the computer assessing the situation.

    Try this: Get a whole bunch of your friends in the area to e-mail Corporate about it at the exact same time. Coordinated group efforts may get someone’s attention a little more effectively than random, single requests.

    I’ll keep my ears open and report back.

  17. @Maria: If I read my information correctly, it looks as if this round is CA only, at least as part of the flyer. The new Order Guides come out on Sunday night, so keep checking every Monday about availability. Sorry I couldn’t be more help.

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