2008 Chariot Gypsy

We interupt this regularly scheduled post for a public service announcement; there have been confirmed sightings of the Gypsy up the coast in both Portland and Seattle. This concludes the use of the emergency broadcast system.

Price: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

2008 Chariot GypsyPer Chariot Wines “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 Joachin, and Monterey counties. It 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!”

What I Think:

Ah, the long lost post. I had grand plans for this one until the day job threw them to roost. When Steve asked last week where it was I decided it was time to close the loop here. So let’s take a quick trip down memory lane.

My going in question was can they maintain the quality as they expand the production. As a reminder the demand for ‘07 vintage was so high they produced two lots. Given I have seen many of my other Trader Joe’s favorites journey this road to mediocrity I feel I have reason to be skeptical. When it arrived, I headed out to grab some straight away and video blogged my first sips from the parking lot. My take was that the ’08 was juicy, fruit forward and a nice easy quaffer. Now that the wine has had a few months in the bottle and I’ve gotten to sample it a few times what’s my take?

The nose is pleasant showing red fruit, oak/barrel and clove notes. The palate starts with jammy, ripe berry flavors. Towards the mid-palate the fruit becomes slightly flabby before being wiped away by an unexpected lively, racy acidic backbone that is full of white pepper. The finish is of bright, tart raspberries. This one is warm and ever so slightly sweet (less so than the ’07) throughout which make the connotations of the “cherry coke” of wine more true than false. That said, given the acidity it may be better suited for pizza than an early evening on the patio. And for me that is what this one is a simple, straight forward Tuesday night wine that is easy to drink. For $5 this is more than you should expect, use it accordingly and you aren’t likely to be disappointed.

For more on this one check out this great take from Viva la Wino!

Rating: Buy It (while you can)

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39 thoughts on “2008 Chariot Gypsy

  1. Thanks for the shout-out. Reflecting on this wine, I find it interesting that it’s still available in stores. Last year, it was sold out in about a week. It’s been well over two months now, and I still see it at my Trader Joes. I think you’re right on point about increasing the production and “the road to mediocrity…”

  2. > It’s been well over two months now, and I still see it at my Trader Joes.

    It’s still selling at the TJs at San Diego’s NTC, as well, probably because the recession has dropped prices so much. There’s a LOT of juice out there for very reasonable prices.

    That said, I’m running hot/cold with this wine. Some times I’ll take a sip and wonder what the fuss is about. Other days, I’ll love it. I’m still trying to decide who is moody: me or the wine.

  3. @Jeff re. being in stores now I am guessing they ramped up production quite a bit (new winemaker and blend). When the lowest common denominator (of grapes) gets lower the only thing that can save quality is an above average vintage. Otherwise there is only one direction quality can go…

    @Andy Funny you should mention running hot/cold with this one. I am in the same boat. Given that let’s blame the wine!

  4. Thanks for the Seattle/Portland heads up! I just ran out and picked up two cases from the Bellevue, WA store… not all for me of course ;-).

  5. Hi Jason – I didn’t mean to stir the pot TOO much, but thanks so much for giving us your thoughts about the Chariot. I respect your opinions and I’m always eager to hear your take. Sadly, we haven’t seen any of the Chariot in Arizona (at least in the Phoenix area), so I’m still waiting….maybe it will never arrive, who knows? Thanks again!

  6. Re: hot/cold

    I really like this Chariot, but only as the first red. Drinking this as a first red, it is fruity and smooth. If this bottle is the second red, it tastes thin and sour.

  7. Just picked up a case at the TJ’s in Glendale AZ (W Bell Rd.). Store had > 20 cases in stock. Just did a side by side test with the ’07 and they are very similar. Good news the price is a $1 cheaper @ $4.99 in AZ this year

  8. @Jay/@Connectr Thanks for the heads up on availability in Bellevue/SoCal

    @Steve Check @pinotcanoz comment below. He found it in Glendale!

    @guy Thanks for sharing, next time I open a bottle I’ll try it under a number of different scenarios!

    @pinotcanoz Thanks for sharing, nice to hear on the price tag. Hope you enjoyed!

  9. The chariot showed up in Minneapolis on 4/23/2010 sold out of one TJ’s in one day. Rumored that there will be more available.
    This vintage is as good as the second 07 vintage!!! Hope to buy more.

  10. I’m a few bottles in on the case I bought. My level of enjoyment has varied, and that flabby fruit in the middle is a little off-putting. That being said, for $5.00 this is a good wine to have around. As I mentioned with the ’07 vintage, this wine is perfect for those times you find yourself with people who like wine and/or drinking but aren’t into wine. I brought the ’08 to a party last weekend and my friends were shocked that it only cost $5.00.

  11. This is a syrupy, cloying concoction of a wine, the oenological equivalent of the Olive Garden or Lucky Charms or, perhaps, even Kitsch. Serve with seltzer or club soda with ice in a tall glass, French fries on the side or potato chips or hush puppies. Drink at the risk of extensive tooth decay.

  12. Well, the Gypsy has finally made its way to MA and we are expecting 80+ cases in our store over the next couple of days.

    Based on recent requests for it, and the fever pitch at which is sold last year, I would say it won’t last more than a couple of days (if that).

    Can’t wait to give it a try!

  13. So I was at TJ this past week and once again I begrudgingly asked the dude “By any chance have you gotten any Chariot Gypsy in?” (as I have asked the last 200 times I have gone in–okay, 5 times)……and they replied “You aren’t going to believe this, but we have a few bottles left…” I look over and there appears 6 bottles……they then inform me that a woman had bought a case and returned it because she said “it gives her headaches” and hence…her headaches and misfortune will now be passed on to me…GLADLY!! Whoo hooo…..6 bottles….

  14. Picked up a bottle at the St Paul, MN TJ’s over the weekend for a wine tasting party – everyone loved it. Went back and bought 2 cases.

  15. Add Vancouver, WA to the list of stores with the 2008. Went in there Monday night (May 3) and picked up 2 cases. Looked like they had about 40 or so remaining out on the floor (don’t know about in the back).

  16. @Richard I hope you did get more!

    @joshiemac Completely agree that this is a great wine for entertaining the masses without breaking the bank…

    @UnderTheInfluence I can certainly understand where that is coming from. Do you have any favorites in the $5 price range you’d like to share?

    @PeterB So…what’d you think? Still available in Boston?

    @Rebecca Great story! And so glad you liked (and scored) the wine…

    @Al Glad to hear it was a hit…

    @Justin thanks for the update, sounds like you are enjoying the Gypsy!

  17. Our local TJs in the Chicago area has plenty of the Chariot on prominent display, as the bargain-hunting frenzy evidenced elsewhere for this wine seems not to have caught on yet among drinkers here. The store also has a separate display of “$5 and under” wines for the cost-conscious (which includes me), but the pickings are rather slim and for the most part already well-documented. Unfortunately, many of the “Buy” and “Bulk Buy” wines you recommend don’t seem to reach the Midwest market. Choices here seem more limited, or at least different. I can report, however, that the 2008 Trentatre’ Rosso is as good as the 2007 you post as #1.

  18. We still had quite a bit (50+ cases) left as of Friday (I took Saturday off to attend my son’s college graduation!) but I don’t know how much more is available to us from the distributor. Needless to say it is selling at a brisk pace.

    I am having a love-hate relationship with this vintage/blend… I find it a overly acidic at times, and a bit flabby in the mid-palate at others, but, overall, I enjoy it (especially at $4.99) – just not as much as the ’07(s).

    I find that it needs some aeration, but doesn’t drink as well the next day as I would like.

    Maybe it just needs a little more bottle time.

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