2011 Floriana Gruner Veltliner

Price: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:
2011 Floriana Gruner Veltliner
Per the bottle “Fresh and lively with appetizing aromas of lemon and apple and just a touch of white pepper.”

What I Think:

(12%) Gruner Veltliner? Hungary? Yes you’re reading that right and it’s not bad either. A slight spritz to start, this one is simple, dry and straight forward showing lemon notes with medium acidity and spiced edges. While it has some, it lacks that white pepper kick I crave in a Gruner. At $6 it delivers (and you get a twist-off to boot) but given Allram and the like can be had for $11 a liter I’m not racing out to buy it again…

Rating: 12th Bottle <- A nice, simple, dry, everyday wine to consider keeping on hand

2009 Landing Place Chardonnay

2009 Landing Place ChardonnayPrice: $2.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per Landing Place Cellars “Lively apple and lemon aromas and flavors, medium bodied, crisp and creamy with a hint of oak.”

What I Think:

(13.5%) This wine, a Rodney Strong offering, starts soft with lemon edges. Medium bodied with spiced, oak overtones which give way to green apple flavors on a medium/short, creamy finish. Simple, balanced and straightforward. While not overly impressive this certainly delivers beyond its $3 price tag…

Rating: 12th Bottle <- A guilt free bottle worth keeping around the house...

Wine Geek Notes: Winemaker = Greg Morthole

2010 Comique Revolution Blanc

Another offering from our friends at the Central Coast Wine Warehouse this one seems similar to the Emergence White that was on the shelves last year. A quick look shows they are the same four grapes though this one is labeled as Central Coast (instead of Paso Robles). Will the results be any different? Let us see…

Price: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

2010 Comique Revolution BlancPer Trader Joe’s “Comique Révolution Blanc is a California Central Coast blend of Rhône varietals like Roussanne, Viognier, Grenache Blanc and Marsanne. Aromas of apple blossom, juniper berry and honeydew prepare your palate for the essences of white peaches and custard. It’s revolutionary in its versatility, too.”

What I Think:

(14.2%) A blend of Roussanne, Viognier, Grenache Blanc and Marsanne this one gets better as it warms. Apple blossom, musk melon and honeysuckle greet you on the nose. The palate is rich with overripe peaches and white pear flavors before turning tart (grapefruit/lemon) with a mineral edge. The oily texture lasts throughout the short, spiced (and slightly hot) finish. Make sure to let this one get all the way to room temperature to let it show its wares. Even still this comes up a bit short for me as it seems flabby (could use more acidity IMHO) and the alcohol is dialed a little high. Very similar to my take on the Emergence White mentioned above. That said at $5 if this sounds like it might be up your alley give it a shot…

Rating: 12th Bottle

2010 Honey Bunch Cellars Chardonnay

This one is loosely affiliated with Grove Street Winery or at least it was licensed under there permit. Here nor there I’ve had this as well as their current red offering and both seem like solid, workman type like wines which given the price is not a bad thing. Expect to see this as my token, crowd-pleaser Chardonnay near the tail end of my next Trader Joe’s Wines Top 10 Wine List (which I intend to publish this Thursday)…

2010 Honey Bunch Cellars ChardonnayPrice: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the bottle “We’ve taken to calling this refreshing, layered Chardonnay summer in a glass. Taking the sweetest advantage of California fruit this captivating California Chard offers hints of sunny lemon and subtle spice, followed by a smooth vanilla-cream finish and lingering undertones of sweet honey. You can’t help yourself!”

What I Think:

(12.5%) North Coast always suckers me in. That said I am not a Chard fan but this one almost does it for me which means at $6 this might be worth checking out. Subdued honey, floral nose. When chilled the palate is crisp with a pronounced vanilla creaminess. As it warms spicy, floral notes emerges first followed by toasted oak. From there baked apple takes center stage followed by a bit of citrus on a crisp finish. Simple and pleasant.

Rating: 12th Bottle

2008 Green Barn Red Field Blend

Ever since I fell in love with a Ridge York Creek Zinfandel long ago I’ve been a sucker for field blends (which this one is). For those that might not new what this indicates it means that the grapes are grown intermixed in the vineyard. There isn’t a row of Zinfandel, a row of Syrah etc. but rather everything is grown side by side. As compared to the vast majority of wines which are grown individually, barreled individually and then in something akin to a science lab test tube tasting bottled together once the magic ratios are identified. But anyhow onto the wine…

2008 Green Barn Red Field BlendPrice: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per Trader Joe’s “Wines made with organically grown grapes have come a long way. We’ve been working with one of the pioneers of this burgeoning segment of the winemaking industry for years, and the wines he produces seem to get better as his efforts at sustainability and biodynamic farming grow even deeper roots (pun intended). We’ve recently partnered with this talented craftsman to create Green Barn Wines, exclusive to Trader Joe’s.

Green Barn Wines are made with organically grown grapes from Mendocino County, north of Sonoma, along the rugged northern California coast. Green Barn Red Wine is a blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, Grenache and Petite Sirah. It’s juicy in the mouth, with black cherry flavors and a bit of orange peel on the finish, with soft tannins.”

What I Think:

(14.5%) 51% Zinfandel, 39% Syrah, 6% Grenache, and 4% Petit Sirah – Nice full nose. On entry this is rich and smooth with juicy, slightly sweet, fruits of blackberry and cherry. These are joined by creamy tannins and a moderate acidity on the mid-palate. From there it turns tart before drying out on dusty, white pepper finish that turns a touch bitter before lingering on. A big wine, but not over the top, to pair with a big meal. If you don’t mind the tart fruit and flash of bitterness perhaps serve it with a nice beef chili on a cold evening…

Rating: 12th Bottle <- While I can imagine buying this one again I’m not likely to do so…

2009 Eola Hills Pinot Gris

2009 Eola Hills Pinot Gris

As mentioned I’m in Oregon on summer vacation making lemonade out of lemons (was supposed to be in the Dolomites) and am drinking local. That means digging into Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. Given my inclination for value I had to have a peek when we hit the Trader Joe’s in Bend for groceries. They had a nice selection of local wines with about 10 of each Pinots. Far more than we see in California so I decided to grab one of each. First up was the Pinot Gris…

Price: $8.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per Eola Hills “Apples, Apples, and more apples – this is what comes to mind on the first sip. A little spritz on the finish. This Pinot Gris was made exclusively from grapes grown in the Willamette Valley. Aged only in stainless steel to allow the fruit flavors to come forward. Similar in style to the Pinot Grigio’s from Italy.”

What I Think:

First off unlike much of the Oregon wine we see at Trader Joe’s in California Eola Hills is a real winery, not just a label, located about ten miles outside of Salem. Started in 1987 the winery makes a wide variety of offering from Cabernet Sauvignon to Viognier to Zinfandel. Not many that Oregon is renowned for. That said Pinot Gris (and Noir) is one in their portfolio for which they are well known so let’s get to it.

(12.6%) Pale, yellowish gold in the glass. Big, crisp and forward on entry with juicy green apples and ripe peach flavors which quickly give way to a mineral, talc backbone. From there the finish turns creamy showing a bit of spice as it lingers on. Again this one seems a bit flabby as I would prefer more acidity but it does seem fairly priced at $9.

Rating: 12th Bottle

2010 Sauvignon Republic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

I still remembering receiving the email from Angela that this one was replacing my long loved King Shag. I remember receiving a text from a friend in Seattle wondering where this one went. And I remember thinking I should update my Top 10 TJs Classics list as a result of this. That said I had sampled the Sauvignon Republic before and I was a fan (though preferred the Stellenbosch) so I figured it was high time to give this one a fighting chance. Could it match its predecessor?

2010 Sauvignon Republic Marlborough Sauvignon BlancPrice: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Sauvignon Republic

What They Said:

Per the bottle “A windswept terroir of hills and dry gravelly-clay riverbeds produces crisp sauvignon with gooseberry notes, herbal grassiness, and restrained minerality. Juicy flavors, crisp acidity and long finish pair well with sea foods of all kinds. The perfect wine with sush!”

What I Think:

(13%) Almost a clear straw in the glass this one shows a big grassy nose loaded with citrus and tropical fruits. Bright lime and grapefruit on entry these fruits turn plush on the palate. From there it turns crisp with an tart acidity that is short lived before the citrus fruit flavors emerge once again. For my palate I would prefer a firmer acidity and crisper finish. That said this is a nice, fruit forward (and a tad aggressive) wine. At $7 the perfect summer wine for your next party but still not quite the King Shag…

Rating: 12th Bottle (meaning I didn’t mind drinking it, perhaps even enjoyed it, but am not inclined to buy again)

What’s your take? Is the Sauvignon Republic a worthy replacement to the King Shag? If not what is your new favorite <$10 Sauvignon Blanc?

2007 Mezzacorona Cabernet Sauvignon

Italian Wine Map: Trentino - Alto Adige

This wine sent me down a bit of a rat hole as they say in my business. You see the label states this wine is from “Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT”. As I am headed to (very) southern Switzerland later this summer of course my curiosity was piqued. So where to start? How about from the top… This IGT is part of Trentino – Alto Adige which is one of the twenty wine regions of Italy. Trentino – Alto Adige, which covers a large part of the Dolomites, is on the alpine border with Austria directly to the north and Switzerland to the west. As you might guess by the name it is actually comprised of two areas. Trentino to the south and Alto Adige to the north.

To understand this further we have to go back to the middle ages and Charlemagne who planted the seeds that resulted in these two distinct areas that still exist today. Trentino, thrives on polenta, and is steeped in the Italo-Venetian traditions well known for an alpine takes of pasta including game, mushrooms and cheeses distinctive to the area. On the other side Alto Adige has more ties to German and Austrian culture and its gastronomic pride is Speck. German and Italian were both made official languages of the region shortly after WWII in 1946 and most residents of the region are still bi-lingual today.

Regional Map of Trentino - Alto Adige

Okay, back to the vino. Trentino-Alto Adige produces less than 1% of the Italy’s wine (but about 10% of its grappa). There are three grapes native to the region; Nosiola, Teroldego Rotoliano and the Marzemino, and loads of international varietals (here’s a full list) like this Cabernet Sauvignon. Of interest most of the wines made in the South are made by larger wineries for international export. In the north most wines are still made by small family wineries where the product is mostly consumed locally with limited exports to Germany and Austria. That said as of late many of these have been developing a niche following here in the United States. This is the area I am most keen to visit should I find the time later this summer…

As for this wine specifically I never did find anything definitive on Vignetti delle Dolomiti IGT. How’d it end up in my house? Good question. I know something inspired me to buy this and figured it was one of those rascally K&L wines emails that regularly drain my wallet. If it was I can’t seem to find; guess that is why I should record these things when I purchase the wines ;-) How’d it go?

2007 Mezzacorona Cabernet SauvignonPrice: $6.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Prestige Wine Imports

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “Leave it to the Italians to make a dirt cheap and super tasty Cabernet that is meant for food. This one offers an intense bouquet, complex with vanilla notes characteristics from oak aging, a dry flavor, lightly tannic, full-body. Pretty much everything you want from a ‘house red’ and all for $7! This is definitely the best cabernet deal in the store- the perfect every-day cab with rich fruit and cedar edges!”

What I Think:

(13%) dark purple, ruby at the edges this one starts juicy (and medium bodied) with tart cherry and spiced currant notes. It is balanced by a pleasant acidity before giving way to toasty, vanilla (all barrel) flavors that show light tannins on a warm, short finish. This wine fades quickly so I would certainly recommend drinking it within the first day if not two. Luckily this one makes that easy. Soft and food friendly with a low abv (13%) this is all you can expect for $7. That said while good it isn’t great. I won’t be buying again but feel free to give it a try if you can find it for $8 or so. For more information on this one or the winery in general head on over to the Mezzacorona website.

Further reading and articles referenced while writing this article:

2006 Oreana ? Red Table Wine

Price: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

2006 Oreana ? Red Table WinePer Oreana Winery “A soft, satiny, sexy wine, with voluptuous black cherry and blackberry fruit, plus layers of chocolate and spices suggestive of cinnamon, mint and more. Powerful and complex, yet open and accessible.”

What I Think:

This one is an offering from the folks at Oreana Winery who you may be familiar with as they are the same folks behind the Project Happiness label and Mission Point Pinot Noir that have long graced the Trader Joe’s shelves. Now I’ve heard from many over the years that were fans of this wine but had yet to try it and figured it was due time to rectify that so on a recent visit in the cart it went. The bottle says “Mistake of fate?” and tell the story of an accidental blending of two lots. Funny, guessing the NV bottling also said the same. The story just doesn’t hold water anymore (just like the Trentatre but we will save that for another day). Good thing this winemaker doesn’t work for me or he’d be fired! Or would he? Let’s see what the bottle has to say?

(14.5%) Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon – Dark, almost opaque in the glass. Once you get near this one it is cloying from the get go. Big, flabby and sweet on the palate if you view the glass half empty. For the half full crew this comes across as a big, relatively smooth fruit bomb with puckering black cherry flavors that shows dry pepper notes on the back end. Either way there is lingering heat on the finish. How do you view the glass? I’m half empty on this one as it seems like a headache waiting to happen. That said feel free to give it a shot if it sounds like it may be up your alley…

Rating: 12th Bottle

Stay tuned for more reviews soon! Unfortunately most of mine as of last have been of the self and peer type as we go through performance reviews at the day job… Hope you are all drinking well!

2008 Liberte Cabernet Sauvignon

This is a guest post from Bob Dwyer of the The Wellesley Wine Press which, for those not familiar, covers “a consumer’s view on finding, enjoying, and sharing great wines at great prices” so as you can imagine we are often sharing tips! If you are interested in taking a look for yourself check out his value alerts or his latest hyper value finds.
*****************************************************
2008 Liberte Cabernet SauvignonPrice: $9.99 @ Trader Joe’s in Framingham, MA

What They Said:

Per the bottle “With its elegant red huge and powerful palate this 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon delivers an exceptional bouquet of blackberries, autumnal leaves and baking spices followed by opulent flavors of clove and marzipan. Serve with stuffed poblano peppers, roasted beet salad or tortilla soup with pressed Cuban sandwiches. Decant 15 to 30 minutes.”

What Bob Thinks:

A surprisingly hefty bottle with a raised label for a $9.99 California Cab. When I mentioned to the wine helmsman at Trader Joe’s that the label reminded me of the Chariot Gypsy he pointed out 3 or 4 other wines that have a similar looking woman on the label (Novella Synergy for example).

Deep dark red/burgundy in color. Not quite opaque but nearly. On the nose I get black pepper, deep black fruit and a little vegetal component I’d associate with Chilean reds blind. The mouthfeel is quite smooth initially, but on the backend I catch a little heat from alcohol with nice savory aromas lingering on in the glass. All in all a flavorful Paso Robles red priced on par with the amount of enjoyment it delivered.

Bob’s Rating: 12th Bottle
*****************************************************
Thanks again to Bob for sharing this post. Have any of you had this wine? If so we would love to hear what you think in the comments below…