A summer’s worth of Trader Joe’s wines

As many of you I haven’t been the most diligent in writing as of late. However I have been diligent in stacking up empty bottles during that time. In filtering through them I found 18 Trader Joe’s offerings. Where should we start?

a few whites...

When grabbing these three I must have had spicy food on my mind as this strikes me as a batch of sweeter whites. First a bit of background, when it comes to spicy foods me and the Dr. Beckermann, my wine of choice in these scenarios, go way back. Given that I rarely try other wines that fall into this category and thought I’d mix it up a bit. How did it go? No winners here but no losers; all pleasant, drinkable wines.

The two Muscat’s were indeed sweet. Of the two I preferred the Castoro Cellars. As for the Lost Angel given the label I would have sworn it was a Central Coast Wine Warehouse offering (Proof Wine Collective is behind their designs) but I was duped. This is a product of EOS who also makes the recently reviewed Novella Synergy (and is soon to be auctioned off for those following along at home). Perhaps the biggest surprise of this bunch was the Pacific Rim Autumnus. I pictured this offering, from Randall Grahm’s old outfit, to be a sweet one given it was a blend Riesling, Chenin Blanc and Gewürztraminer. But after JB decided to do a guest post it became clear it was not. Paying full retail ($14) for this one would be disappointing but at $6 you could do a whole lot worse.

a few reds...

Normally I would say that while both of these were eminently drinkable (which is a win in and of itself for <$5) that there was nothing special about either of them. That said in the case of the Terrenal I learned when reviewing their Cabernet that these are the Two Buck Chuck’s of the Kosher wine world. Given what I would perceive as the lack of overall availability of these types of wines I would imagine it is hard to come by wines like this at this price point. As for the Castillo de Monseran this one grew on me the more air it got. Towards the end it reminded me of warm cherry pie. I may have to try this one again…

wines of interest...

These were all quality offerings likely worth their own reviews and at least consideration as repeat buys. The Hogue Genesis has a little bottle age and was nicely balanced. Plush fruit and briar spice on top of a nice acidity with a warm, slightly creamy finish. The Caretaker Pinot reminded me somewhat of the ’08 offering which I grabbed off the shelves immediately just after it was put in the bottle. This wine too taste young but shows nice, tart cherry and cranberry flavors on a dry finish. If you have space buy a handful of these and let them sit for a year. As it drinks today it is fairly priced at $9. As for the Epicuro I’ve long been a fan of all their offerings but hadn’t had the Salice Salentino since the ’03 vintage. A recommendation from olivier led me to revisit this one and I was glad I did. It serves as a reminder that I need to revisit the whole lot of those Epicuro offerings.

the classics...

Not much to say here. People that read this blog know that these are wines I have been a big fan of. These are some of your best bets to deliver quality and value vintage over vintage. That said as of late the Chariot Gypsy (review)and I have been in hit and miss mode. The good news is I know within the first sip. Sometimes it just comes off as sweet and slightly syrupy. Other times it reminds me why I get excited enough to shoot a tasting video in the Trader Joe’s parking lot. As for the Trentatre this was my first bottle of the ’08 and my initial take was that while still enjoyable it doesn’t approach the ’07. More thoughts on this one to come. The Rabbit Ridge (review), Dr. Beckermann (review) and Geyser Peak (review) are all drinking as good as ever…

oldies but goodies...

As mentioned in a recent post on Trader Joe’s and wedding wines the Trinchero Cabernet was there on my big day back in 2003. My wife and I have made a tradition of opening a bottle each anniversary. After last year we were worried this wine might be getting past its prime and decided to accelerate the process by drinking it for half anniversary celebrations as well. I can happily say the last bottle restored confidence that this one is still drinking well. It just so happens our anniversary is now days away so I’ll be enjoying (hopefully) it again very shortly. As for the Franc Merlot this is an all time favorite which sadly only appeared for a single vintage (the ’06). I fear it has been replaced by the 2007 Dr. Jebediah Drinkwell’s Meritage which nice didn’t capture my imagination the way of its predecessor. I do luckily still have one bottle remaining which means I have one last meal before I have to bid this old friend adieu.

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7 thoughts on “A summer’s worth of Trader Joe’s wines

  1. Good to see posts look to be picking back up after the summer, which I hope you enjoyed. I look forward to as many reviews as your time and desire permit :)

    While I’m sure an updated top 10 would be very helpful to most readers, I personally am more interested in getting your takes on wines you haven’t written about before, whether new or just new to you.

  2. Yes, there’s some crazy bottle variation going on with the ’08 Chariot Gypsy red. I had a string of like 2 to 3 bottles during the summer that were barely drinkable, so much so that I didn’t think I’d touch another bottle. Last weekend I was making a lamb stew in the slow cooker and needed a red for cooking. Not wanting to waste something more expensive, I cracked open a bottle of the Chariot. It wasn’t half bad and was back to the near 85 rating I gave it when I first tasted it last spring. Maybe it was the 6 months of bottle age. I don’t know.

  3. I’ve not tried the ’07 Trentatre Rosso but have tried, and gone back for, the ’08. In my experience it is great right after opening, but deteriorates substantially the next day. Giving it air seems to reveal *too* much age. After a few swigs, the nice flavors do reappear though.

    BTW, it’s $5.99 not $4.99.

    Thanks for starting up on your blog again!

  4. I found your site and picked up the Trentatre Rosse. Unfortunately, I didn’t make note of the year. Sorry.

    I invited a friend over for dinner and one thing I always have fun doing is a blind taste test with the wine just opened and after I run it through the Vinturi. She felt that the original glass was a bit too harsh, but the post-vinturi one was very smooth. I did the blind tasting myself and it was quite apparent that this bottle definitely needed the aeration to mellow it out. Just out of the bottle wasn’t nearly as enjoyable. But after vinturi, it was a wonderful wine!

  5. Sounds like it might be even better just after opening when aerated! Do me favor, do that again, but save some for the next day. I’m really curious!

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