Preparing for Wine Armageddon?

2003 Red Flyer California RedOops! That is what I told my wife. I ran down to Trader Joe’s to grab my latest haul of the Gypsy and meant to stock up on some white. Turns out I accidentally came home with 5 cases. Thought I would take the time to share with you what was in my haul and take the chance to remind you all that I am backing up my ratings with my very own wallet. 6 of the Top 10 and five from the “others of interest” list were amongst them. Here’s the gory details:

The Gypsy:

    2008 Chariot Gypsy (30) – $4.99 – See my initial thoughts here. For less than 2 weeks in the bottle it is very drinkable right now! Look forward to how it comes together over the next couple months and beyond…

A handful of new ones…

    2007 Vinum Cellars Chenin Blanc (3) – $4.99 – Was excited and surprised to see this one. I love Chenin Blanc so I grabbed a handful of this one. First glass says it was a good decision. I’ll use my next one to determine if I need to go back and buy more, don’t tell the wife!
    2007 Trinchero Family Riesling (3) – $4.99 – The ’99 Trinchero Cabernet was my wedding wine, given that I had to give this one ago (though perhaps one would have done the trick). Given it was Valentine’s Day and I am the romantic I chilled it down to serve with the roasted chicken I had brined overnight. On the first sip I knew that wasn’t a pairing meant for success, too sweet. The other two bottles will be paired with spicy Asian foods. That is my only play for this one…
    2007 Trader Joe’s Petit Reserve Pinot Noir (1) – $6.99 – This one is made by Hahn family (the Red Flyer was their previous TJ’s effort!) and from Monterey. Couple those with a $6.99 price tag and I thought maybe this one could defy logic. Stay tuned to see if that is the case.
    2008 Trader Joe’s Growers Reserve Petite Sirah (1) – $4.99 – Grabbed this one as I had heard some positive rumblings about it. 76% organic seems random. This one is made by ASV Wines who I believe makes the entire “Growers Reserve” line. Not expecting much but hoping to be pleasantly surprised.

A load of whites…

    2007 Dr. Beckermann Piesporter Michelsberg Riesling Spatlese (1) – $4.99 – My go to Riesling (#10 in the Top 10) for spicy Asian food, much prefer this to the Trinchero mentioned above. Here is a review of the 2005
    2008 Down Under Chardonnay (1) – $2.99 – Figured I would give this one another try as I enjoyed it, relatively speaking, the first time around.
    2009 Zarafa Sauvignon Blanc (1) – $3.99 – Definitely wanted to get some more of this new bargain find. Not sure if I should be concerned but this one is now called Zafrika now and comes complete with a new zebra striped label. Same importer and pretty certain it is the same juice but only bought one bottle until I confirmed.
    2008 King Shag Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (1) – $6.99 – Long time fan of this one and happy to have it back in the house. Here is a review of the 2007.
    2008 Honey Moon Viognier (1) – $4.99 – A very distinctive wine, almost slightly syrupy at times, that goes perfect with salmon.

A ½ case of Italian…

    2008 Il Valore Sangiovese (1) – $2.99 – A perfect cooking (and sipping) wine, this is a bottle I always want to have at my disposal.
    2007 Epicuro Aglianico (1) – $4.99 – Another long time fave, I fear this one is falling off. Hopefully this bottle proves otherwise. Here is a link to the 2005.
    2008 Chiusa Grande Tommolo Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo (1) – $4.99 – Haven’t had this one (#8 in Top 10) in a while as I’ve been enjoying the Trentatre, wanted to get it back in the mix. Here is a review of the 2006.

And a few others…

    2007 Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve (1) – $6.99 – Not sure how I managed to run out of this one, it is too good to be without. I ranked it #6 in my latest Top 10. Here’s a post on the 2005.
    2008 La Granja Tempranillo (1) – $3.99 – Another recent fave (#9 in latest Top 10), wanted to add another bottle to my stash.
    NV Porto Morgado Tawny Port (1) – $5.99 – We have lots of dinner parties and more often than not the port if fueling conversation as sipped and not often tasted, that’s when I am happy I have this one around.

That’s it! Any of your faves I missed?

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16 thoughts on “Preparing for Wine Armageddon?

  1. It’s good to hear that the Chiusa Grande Tommolo Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo is around. The NJ store has been out of it for at least a month – long enough that the sign is gone. Hopefully it’s just temporary because this is a favorite, but our selection always seems sub par to the California stores. (Chariot Gypsy is no where to be found . . .) Hey east coasters – have you seen this on the shelves lately?

  2. Jillian, I found the Gypsy at the Brookline Mass TJ’s around October 2009 and picked up two bottles then (I know, should have gotten more). After I tried it, I headed back to the store for more and it was gone — the wine guy there said he grabbed the last case for himself. He said he doubted it would appear again in Brookline, but I’ll still look for it.

  3. Has anyone had the Chiusa Grande Armento Trebbiano? Been wondering if it’s worth trying.

    Jason, I’m glad you only bought one bottle of Zafrika because it’s not Zarafa. I just tried their new pinotage and it’s very weird. There’s some kind of savory element that TJ’s tasting notes describe as BBQ potato chips. I’m skeptical when I read about unusual flavors, but I had to agree this time. Also hints of banana and plum. Not as bad as it sounds but not as good as Zarafa which is still available for less ($3.99 vs $4.99) at my store. I’ll be interested to see what you think of the sauvignon blanc.

    The Grower’s Reserve Petite Sirah is 76% organic because the organic certification for the syrah and zinfandel in the blend didn’t come through in time.

  4. No Chariot Gypsy here in DC. We got a few cases of the 2007 (and I snagged half a dozen, thanks to Jason’s recommendations), but I spoke with the staff and they didn’t hear of any plans for the Gypsy to end up in this part of the TJ universe. WAUGH!

    I just got a bottle of the Zafrika SB and am also looking forward to tasting how this compares to Zarafa. Have loved the Zarafa Pinotage and was a bit concerned to read about the wierd Zafrika version.

  5. Hiya,

    Tasting Notes for the last 2 Crew Tastings:

    Green Fin Organic White (Flyer): $3.99
    Aromatic, zippy, Fruity nose, Fun, Friuty, Nice Finish, a teeny, tiny bit off-dry:
    Everyone liked it

    Petit Reserve Pinot Noir: $6.99
    Smoky nose, tasty but has a Hot finish because of the 15 % alcohol: Mixed reviews

    La Granja: $3.99
    Tight nose, Dark Raspberry with a decent finish
    Would make an excellent base for a premium Sangria using blood oranges, etc.

    TJ’s Grower’s Reserve Zinfandel: $4.99
    Very light berry nose, dark berries and smoke on the palate with a nice finish
    Everyone liked it

    2008 Dr. Loosen QbA Riesling: $10.99
    Very bright nose, pear and peach, itty bitty off-dry with an awesomely zesty finish. Yum!!!
    Everyone liked it

    2008 Canard Sauvage Dry Creek Sonoma Zinfandel: $9.99
    Smoky, berry nose
    Bold, bright and delicious
    Mixed yet passionate reviews
    (1st Mate LOVES it)

    2006 Guenoc Cabernet Sauvignon: 8.99
    Strawberries and smoke on the nose, red berries and smoke on the palate
    Fairly light for a Cab, but most people
    liked it. Gotta say that having strawberies on my tongue while drinking a Cab was kinda wierd, but fairly tasty at the same time.

  6. I know you’re not a chardonnay fan, Jason, but the Beringer 2006 Central Coast “Third Century” hit the end cap at a San Diego Trader Joe’s last weekend. It’s $14 on Beringer’s Web site, but $3.99 at TJs.

    I bought a few bottles Saturday, and we loved ‘em. When I returned Monday for a case, they were sold out.

    If anybody sees a bottle, be sure to check it out.

    • Thanks for the tip, Andy. I’m a chardonnay lover, but found the 2006 Beringer Central Coast “Third Century” a little too light for me and lacking traditional chardonnay flavors. I rate it 12th bottle. As my quest for a great $5 chardonnay continues…..

  7. After briefly being on our shelves simultaneously with Zafrika, both the Zarafa pinotage and SB are now unorderable. I don’t know whether this is the end of Zarafa or if the importer realized they couldn’t produce enough of it and found something to fill in the supply gap. Either way these are definitely two sets of completely different wines.

    • Thanks for the follow up. I’ve actually been in touch with the importer of these wines before so let me see if I can’t figure out what the situation is there… Stay tuned!

  8. @jillian Hope the Chiusa Grande makes it back your way soon!

    @paul Guessing that was the ’07 Gypsy as the ’08 just hit the shelves. I have no concrete evidence this one will make it to MA but it certainly can’t hurt to hope!

    @Don I’ve had the Trebbiano and have notes buried around here somewhere. Nice but not moving as I recollect. Fair value at its price point and likely worth trying as 1) most haven’t tried the grape and 2) you may like it more than I did. As for the Zafrika thanks for the heads-up. Likewise for the clarification on the 76% organic.

    @Victoria Hope the Gypsy makes it your way soon. If you try the Zafrika before I do would love to hear your thoughts.

    @Thomas I am familiar with the Chiusa Grande as it is #8 on my current Trader Joe’s Top 10 Wine List. Glad to hear you enjoyed it!

    @Angela You are the best! Thanks for sharing your tasting notes. I really have to find a way to put this to better use. The Green Fin (Bronco Wine Co) and Dr. Loosen are new TJ’s label to me and I will likely give both a try. I tried the Pinot (made by Hahn) and fell into the mixed category. Nice wine but was it varietally correct? Obviously a fan of La Granja as it snuck into the Top 10. Tried the Zin a few times and am somewhat indifferent to it. The Canard and Guenoc I’ve oft looked at but never bought, based on your notes I plan on keeping it that way… Thanks again for your valued contributions!

    @Meghan Thanks for the kind words.

    @Andy I’d give you a special prize for knowing my take on Chard if I could! That said, I’d be happy to give this one a try. I am familiar with the label as the two cases of Chariot Gypsy I brought home were in these boxes. Worst case scenario is I have a happy wife as she loves Chard. Thanks for the recommendation!

  9. The Zafrika Pinotage is definitely not in the same class as the Zarafa, and to add insult to injury it is $1 (25%) more expensive. I just bought a case of the Zafrika, and believe me, this will be the one and only. It is a weird wine, with strange flavors, definitely not like any Pinotage I have ever had, and I come from SA. Come on Trader Joe’s give your customers what they like, as you normally always do.

  10. @Cyril: What are you specifically looking for?
    Unfortunately, there aren’t many SA wines available in the Order Guide. However if you haven’t had the Sauvignon Republic Stellenbosch Sauvignon Blanc yet ($7),
    it’s excellent and definitely more interesting than some of the higher-priced NZ ones.

    If you know of any good quality,
    value-driven SA labels that have a good distribution network, please let me know and I’ll pass it along to Corporate.

  11. Angela

    There are plenty good SA wines around, but many of them appear to be distributed on the West Coast. Names that come to mind are Zonnebloem, Bonnievale Cellars, Fairview, Grootte Post, Robertson Co-op Winery, Durbanville Hills, just to name a few. I saw these in San Francisco last time I was there. On the more expensive side, Brampton, Glen Carlou, Mulderbosch and Warwick are both excellent estates producing world class wines.

    I have sometimes found these in Pennsylvania and in New Jersey.

    Does this help?


  12. @Cyril: Yes, thanks, that does help.
    Now here’s the catch: If you found these in retail wines shops and not Trader Joe’s, we might not have access to them. I’m not sure if it’s the distribution network or something else, but I’ll add these to the ever-growing list of items the Buyer might want to consider.

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