Trader Joe’s Thursday

Trader Joe'sI know Trader Joe’s hasn’t been getting as much coverage here as they once had. The reasons for this are varied. 1) I haven’t been shopping at Trader Joe’s quite as much as I use to (for groceries). 2) At the same time I’ve recently scored a few cases from K&L Wines (check my latest haul), Vinos Unico and Cheese Plus (plus samples) which have left me a treasure trove of wine I’ve been (enjoyably) working my way through. Further I am finding that as my thirst for wine knowledge grows I am gravitating towards bottles I can learn more about (vineyards, brix, sugar levels, etc.). Given there is so little information available about the vino from Trader Joe’s (though the employees seem to get a boatload…) it has sapped some of my enthusiasm for these wines…

That said with the holidays around the corner and my Top 10 list ridiculously out of date I am going to once again be frequenting the Trader Joe’s wine aisles. My initial thought is that I’ll share my thoughts on those that aren’t top 10 candidates as part of this new Trader Joe’s Thursday’s series. As a side note I usually post notes to Cellar Tracker before they make their way here. You can find all my tasting notes here.

    Before we get started if you have any current Trader Joe’s favorites please list them in the comments below so I have a cheat sheet when I head over…

While we are waiting on me to go shopping why don’t we start with a few made an appearance at a work event last week…

  • 2009 Caretaker Wines Pinot Noir ($9) – (14.5%) Dark nose, cherry, red berries with wood notes and some slightly harsh, bitter notes. Full fruit, slightly creamy but falls apart quickly as a sour, tart acidity emerges leading to a short, heated, bitter finish. Crafted to be bigger in style but doesn’t quite deliver. That said I wasn’t a fan of the ’08 either but many others were. That said I am still passing on this one.
  • 2009 Bogle Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon ($10) – (13.5%) Dark fruit with some eucalyptus on the nose and the overwhelming aromas of sunscreen. SPF50 perhaps. Medium to full bodied on the palate with juicy cassis and dark cherry notes. A creaminess emerges on the mid-palate and lasts into a toasted, oaky, vanilla spiced finish. Little tannins or acidity to speak of downgrading the ability to pair this one with food widely. That said good for chili, a hamburger or to warm you up on a cold night. Quaffable and pleasant but better for drinking than tasting. Long a fan of Bogle (their Petite Sirah is a fave) they continue to deliver (despite the sunscreen) at the sub $10 price point. As for this particular bottle no need to seek it out but it is widely available should you ever find yourself in a jam…

There you have it! I’ll see you next Thursday and in the meantime don’t forget to add your recommendations to the comments below…

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5 thoughts on “Trader Joe’s Thursday

  1. HI Jason,

    Finally had a Tasting, here ya go:

    2010 Panilonco Chardonnay/Viognier: $3.99
    I haven’t like this wine in the past, but this vintage is surprisingly drinkable.
    Pleasant, Viognier being a dominant presence and just a little bite on the finish which would probably not be noticeable when chilled.

    2009(?) TJ’s Petit Reserve Edna Valley Pinot Noir: $6.99
    Jammy nose, cherries & smoke, nice legs, tasty and easy drinking.

    2009 Epicuro Aglianico: $4.99
    Light to medium bodied, light but sharp tannins, light on fruit. Not even close to prior vintages.

    2009 Dearly Beloved Red Blend: $6.99
    Tight on the nose, jammy front, very tannic. Fellow crew members said after 2-3 days it opened up rather nicely.
    I think it would need to be open at least 24 hrs to be drinkable.
    Cool bottle though. People are loving the silk-screened sugar skull.

    You might want to check out the following:
    TJ’s Reserve Sonoma County Zinfandel: $9.99 (the real winery is on the label)
    Had it, liked it, really interesting spicy notes

    TJ’s Reserve Cabernet: Dry Creek, Alexander Valley and Mendocino: $9.99
    Columbia Crest Two Vines Cabernet, Merlot-Cabernet, Chardonnay & Riesling: $4.99: Next on my Tasting list

    See you next week,
    Wine Geek #109

  2. Those tannins seem to be shedding on the journey from CA to NJ since I noticed only a little on the Aglianico and none on Dearly Beloved :)

    Agreed on your conclusion though for Aglianico and Panilonco. Need to try the Reserve Zin to see if the 15%+ alcohol is integrated this year. I found Dearly Beloved a solid combo of dark fruit and exotic spices.

    It’s an embarrassment of riches with the 2009 TJ Reserve Cabs. I’ll go as far to say the Mendocino Reserve is the best and most complex $10 TJ Reserve I’ve tasted. That one is no longer available here, but the one from Dry Creek Valley is practically as delicious- just not as many layers.

    The only thing stopping me from recommending the 2009 Mendo Syrah quite as strongly is the heavy tannins require a lot of air and the right food for it to show its potential now.

  3. I love your Thursday special… I was not a regular Trader Joe’s shopper, but after your deals I love getting over there are trying some new wine out.

  4. Wow, It’s been a long time since I have been on here. I know how you feel about Trader Joe’s not having anything exciting to try. We just got a wine called Dearly Beloved that is $6.99. It’s a nice fruit forward everyday table wine (can’t really say much more about it). The seal of the month so far for me was the Trader Joe’s Petite Reserve Pinot Noir from Edna Valley. I have to say is has to be one of the best Pinot Noir for under 7 dollars that I have had in a long time. One other wine that I was surprised by in the TJ’s Wine section was one of the Epicuro’s for $4.99. For 5 bucks the Epicuro Aflianico is a nice heavy but drinkable wine. I don’t write the wine order for my store anymore but I will have to get on here more often to share are diamonds in the rough.

  5. @Angela Thanks for the tasting notes. I’ll surely give the Edna Valley Pinot Noir a try! I’ve had the Two Vines labels in the past and thought they delivered well for the price point. Let us know how it goes..

    @Don Thanks for the thoughts on the TJ’s Reserve Cabs. As much as I am tempted to try I rarely pull the trigger. Let’s see what happens when I stop at TJ’s tonight

    @Jim Thanks for reading along!

    @JB Long time indeed! Thanks for the 2nd on the Edna Valley Pinot. As for the Aglianico I remember the first vintage fondly but have seen it losing luster over the years. Perhaps I’ll grab one just for old times sake but I’m afraid the magic for me there is gone…

    Anyone else have any tips? Heading that way in the next hour…

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