2006 Albero Tempranillo

2006 Albero TempranilloPrice: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Latitude Wines

What They Said:

Per the bottle “Tempranillo Barrica is made by Spain’s Oldest Estate Bottled Winery. Spain’s finest, proudly made with hand selected certified organically grown grapes. Albero Tempranillo Barrica is perfect when enjoying with friends or in giving the gift of wine.” <– thanks for all the helpful information :)

What I Think:

Reading the bottle I find two bits of information for me to start my investigation. The first is to Iranzo Vineyards. Checking the site there is no mention of this offering there. As we learned from the Terrenal Mendoza Cab it could be the case that they are relabeling one of the offerings we see here as the Albero that landed in Trader Joe’s. That is pure speculation of course. The second clue is to Latitude Wines. If anyone from either of these companies is listening I have some advice. Please, I repeat please, never post your web address somewhere (like the bottle!) when you have nothing for me to see on the other end!

Ok, got that off my chest. Now let’s move on to the main event, the wine. As you can see from above the world, nor the winery, has much to say about this one. My friend @oenanist does. He tipped me off to this one via comments and posted a review on cork’d as well. What did I think? On the nose I sensed dark fruit with hints of spice (and possibly some green vegetal) aromas. Sage? Or maybe it was floral, violets? On the palate a nice dose of cherries greeted me that turned a bit sour towards the mid-palate. That was followed by a nice dry finish on the back of the throat that tickled with light tannins. This was night 5, hardly remember day 1 but it seems a lot smoother. Compared to a typical light, juicy Tempranillo this one seems a bit heavier in the mouth and darker in fruit. My verdict, drinkable but not all that memorable. I’d stick with the Raimat over this one but that is just my opinion. Let me know what you think…

Rating: 12th Bottle

2006 Terrenal Mendoza Cabernet Sauvignon

2006 Terrenal Mendoza Cabernet SauvignonPrice: $3.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by L. Watson Inc.

What They Said:

Per Daniel Rogov “Dark ruby towards garnet, with soft tannins, hints of spices and a note of chocolate highlighting blackberry and black cherry fruits. Round and appealing, a very good entry-level wine. Drink now.” Score 86. K (Tasted 9 Oct 2008)

What I Think:

I’ve been looking forward to posting this one as it has been a rewarding experience thanks to Shimshon of Welner Wines! From the bottle I was able to track this to Vinas Argentinas which led me to Telteca Winery. From there I emailed the contact us info and Shimshon responded with the wealth of information I am about to share. Didn’t even have to use the other information at my disposal (hand harvested for the Cartellone Family and Jose Pedro Gomez was the winemaker)

The first item of note is that this predominately sells under the Tierra Salvaje label. I’ve had a Carmenere ($4) from them at Trader Joe’s a while back. Tried to track down my tasting notes but not much there. My recollection is that it was good but not great.

As for this one specifically, Terranal (from the label) is a cousin of the term terroir and means earthy. Given I have a Cab from Ruca Malen (btw, if you ever visit Mendoza be sure to have their wine pairing lunch. Fantastic!) I picked up on my trip to Argentina in ’06 I considered this a free preview. On sight, the wine is dark but the nose brings me light raspberry fruit notes with a bit of tannin. It certainly lacks the California Cab characteristics you might expect so prepare yourself. The initial taste is familiar but what…something, can’t place it! A nice tannic backbone and a pleasant mid-palate full of plum and cherry flavors. The only disappointment is that there was little from a finish perspective. All in all, for $4 this is a great introduction to what Cabernet from another región is all about; lighter, fruitier and less tanic. Give it a try. I’m going to grab another bottle. They also have a Malbec in stock which I intend to drink/review soon. Stay tuned…

Rating: 12th Bottle

2006 Epicuro Nero d’ Avola

2006 Epicuro Nero d' AvolaPrice: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the bottle “Made only with the Nero d’Avola grapes, this is a great wine with a beautiful rich, bright garnered colour and full bouquet redolent of berries, cherries and spices. The flavour is clear-cut, full-bodied and elegant. Perfect with grilled red meats and game. Serve at 18 degrees Celsius.”

What I Think:

I was fired up to find out about this one via a comment from Jesse Porter. I quite enjoyed the Archero offering and had meant to try a pricier version of this varietal but never got around to it. Nevertheless I was thrilled to land this one on a recent shopping trip which I noted via twitter.

To cut to the chase, the nose smells of simple berry fruit with a hint of dustiness and a bit of spice. In the mouth a full bodied, firm structure greets you leading into a supple palate full of light, ripe red fruit. This lasts until within a fraction of the finish when a tart, astringent finale ends the taste. This one is a winner as is Epicuro, they are certainly the most consistent Italian wine label at Trader Joe’s. Feel free to buy this one along with any others offerings from this label you may find.

Rating: Buy It

2006 Handley Vineyard Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc

2007 Handley </i>Vineyard Dry Creek Sauvignon BlancPrice: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per Wine Enthusiast “With searing acidity and minerally citrus flavors, this bone-dry Sauvignon is a great cocktail sipper with hors d’oeuvres like potstickers or crudité.” — S.H. (87 points, 11/15/2007)

What I Think:

When I saw this one on the shelves I was immediately excited as I recognized Handley from my many trips to Mendocino where they are neighbors with one of my all time favorites; Navarro. I was excited, not necessarily about this one as I ran straight to the Pinot section to see if I could find some more Handley offerings there. Alas, no. So I headed back and decided to give the Sauvignon Blanc a try. On getting home a quick search showed K&L the selling the same bottle for $15. Trader Joe’s $6. Are you enjoying that 60% discount? In cases like these I always wonder what gives. I wish someone could explain that to me. I’ll shoot an email to the winery and let you know if I hear back. Update: I did and per the winery it appears they were trying to liquidate remaining inventory quickly, enter Trader Joe’s (see editor’s note below).  Lucky us!

Apologies, you are probably much more curious as to the wine rather than the pricing. On the nose this showed nice citrus aromas with mineral and stone notes in the background. In the glass it was bright golden almost showing a honeydew hue. The palate showed more citrus flavors with nice lemon zest balance by the mineral notes and acidity lending itself to a nice finish. A very nice effort that will surely be pleasing to all. I personally prefer a bit more crispness and zing along the lines of this Geyser Peak. With this being $3 cheaper I’ll be treating myself to another bottle. In fact I already have!

Rating: Buy It

Editor’s Note (23-Oct-2008):

As mentioned I emailed the winery to see how we were lucky enough to have this one show up at Trader Joe’s and was lucky enough to get a quick response. First off I had the vintage wrong as it was the ’06. I double-checked my new bottle at home and this have edited the post above accordingly.  Here is what Linda had to say:


Hello Jason,
The vintage on the wine with the fabulous price at Trader Joe’s is 2006. We do not have the 2006 vintage Sauvignon Blanc available at the winery. The $15 pricing online is for the 2007. We have not had a price increase for 3 years.

We found that although the 2006 is tasting really great and has won some very nice Gold medals and awards, we had too much of it to sell through our regular channels in a timely fashion. (It was a big vintage). Therefore we sought unusual methods and with Trader Joes and their good reputation we felt that it was a good solution.

Buy it!
Linda

Thanks Linda, I will!

2006 Chiusa Grande Tommolo Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo

2006 Chiusa Grande Tommolo Montepulciano d AbruzzoPrice: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by D’Aquino Italian Imports

What They Said:

Per The Wine Rack “While the 2006 vintage is a little rougher around the edges than the 2004 Chiusa Grande Tommolo Montepulciano, I reviewed earlier, it still is an incredible bargain. Still only $5.00 at Trader Joe’s and made from hand picked organically grown grapes. Similarities with the 2004 are the nose of fresh cherry and violets, the cherry/blueberry flavors and the long finish. However this vintage carries a bit of heat on finish and a trace of alcohol/heat at the end of the aromas. Disregarding the comparison to 2004 this is still a nice wine and a sweet value.”

What I Think:

This odyssey started with a tip from oenanist and continued tonight with my second bottle. Amazingly I was able to track the winery down and find tasting notes (warning PDF) for what appeared to be the same wine though the pictures are vastly different.

About time for a review, no? On the nose this one is delicate and shows hints of flowers and tart cherries. On the palate this wine is simple and I mean so in a good way! Medium to light weight a ride of cherries (with the stems) along a light tannic backdrop. It is likely better served with some red sauced pasta. From end to end, this a clean journey balancing fruit with tannins and spice. The finish is a bit hot and dry bit overall this is one to buy. Next time I want to line this up side by side with the 2005 Epicuro Aglianico. Don’t see this as the #1 ranked wine, just wondering how far off it is…. BTW, did I mention this was organic? Also saw some notes saying it was hand-picked, hard to believe that can be accomplished at this price point.

Rating: Buy It

*photo by Rick Audet

2006 The California Wine Party Franc Merlot

2006 The California Wine Party Franc MerlotPrice: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per corkd.com “Recent find at Trader Joe’s. The nose has an intriguing mix of earth, fruit and herbs (rosemary? basil?). Good tannin & some fennel. The taste has some luscious blackberry and an herby finish. Different, and I really like it. Much more interesting than the typical $5 wine.”

What I Think:

As I mentioned here this one is a winner. I backed up that sentiment again ranking the Franc Merlot #2 in my Top 10 list of Trader Joe’s Wines and even more so when I cleaned the last case off of the shelf at my local TJ’s last weekend. All that said I am a sucker for Cabernet Franc and this one is heavy in that department (70% Cabernet Franc, 26% Merlot and 4% Petite Sirah). Given a varietal bottling of Cabernet Franc can rarely be found for less than $10 and we have a potential steal on our hands already!

On pouring this one in the glass you find a great nose full of spice and peppers. Slightly green but in a pleasant way. You can tell it is heavy on the Cabernet Franc as the characteristics shine through. That said the fruit is a little more robust here. It is smooth up front before cherries burst through the peppery undertones. The soft tannins stay in the background and the chewy, cherry flavors linger on leading to a long dry finish. One word of caution put it away if your dessert comes with chocolate. That said buy a case for every other occasion! This is the best $5 red I’ve had at Trader Joe’s in quite some time.

Rating: Bulk Buy

2006 Bear’s Lair Viognier

Price: $3.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per The Wineauxs “Tropical fruit on the nose – papaya and pineapple mostly. Feels a bit viscous in the mouth, some spicy notes, and a bit of fruit – quite dry over all actually. This is interesting as the finish is huge while the palate is somewhat muted….lots of spice and tropical fruit – papaya and maybe even some guava with lingering vanilla bean and at the very end some strong lime notes coming through. An insanely long finish for almost any wine, let alone one under five bones. This is a tough bottles to complain about…dirt cheap and surprisingly complex. I like my Viognier with more melon on the flavor profile but hey – four bucks? I’m sold.”

What I Think:

Google couldn’t help me find much here but Deb sure did. This turns out to be another offering from Bronco Wine Company which maintains no official web presence of their own. Guessing that is largely because their association with a label could often be considered detrimental… Anyhow having a little fun looking around I discovered a few interesting facts courtesy of Wikipedia. Fred Franzia is the nephew of Ernest Gallo and Bronco is the 4th largest producer of wine in the US. Massive! The Wikipedia page also has a list of their brands with Bears’ Lair accounted for.

With the weather as it has been whites have been on the menu often. Given my lack of appreciation for Chardonnay and the fact that I don’t find sweetness all that refreshing we have been drinking Sauvignon Blanc like it was going out of style. Having enjoyed some Viognier in the past I picked up this bottle, as well as the Honeymoon, as I was strolling through the Trader Joe’s Wine section. With a taco salad on the table it seemed like an opportune time to give it a try. To the eye the wine was golden, yellow and the nose showed hints of tropical fruits. Full and viscous is the best way to describe the first sip. The palate is crisp with notes of citrus before giving way to a nice creamy finish. This is a nice offering though subdued throughout. I am use to Viognier being much more expressive. At this price point guessing I shouldn’t be picky. That said I hope the Honeymoon is better. If that is true, won’t be buying this one again.

Rating: 12th Bottle

2006 Kenwood California Rose Table Wine

Price: $3.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the winery well nothing…Please don’t click on the link unless you want to see the “Coming Soon” sign….not exactly blogger friendly. Shame on you Kenwood, are you listening, shame on you.

What I Think:

I’ve had many forgettable roses from Trader Joe’s this summer. Given the weather though I intend to keep on trying. So when this one hit the shelf (at a mere $4) I decided to give it a go. Initial searches once home showed a lot of confusion…what grapes were in this wine, depends where you look. Ratings ranged from 82-90 and there was not much overlap in the adjectives used to describe this wine. This coupled with the fact that I had to data mine Google to find any results left me not knowing what to expect.

Upon opening this I was pleased. Had some nice cherry and strawberry notes and overall was simple and light…perfect for an afternoon barbeque. The finish is crisp and dry with hints of flowers. One write-up described this wine as “featureless” which sounds less than endearing but in this case serves as a backhanded compliment. This wine is refreshing and offers just enough complexity to enjoy while not taxing your mind on a hot day. It may not be for you but I am going to grab another bottle.

Rating: Buy It

2006 Rabbit Ridge Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon

Price: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the winery “This Cabernet Sauvignon was barrel-aged in French and American oak for approximately 16 months to achieve the perfect balance. A judicious amount of Petite Verdot and Petite Sirah was added to create this big, concentrated dark Cabernet Sauvignon boasting a great deal of complexity. The wine is totally natural with the exception of yeast added during fermentation. The limestone characteristics of our vineyards allow us to produce this Cabernet Sauvignon with 100% natural acid. 5,040 cases produced.”

What I Think:

After going through quite a bit of the Allure de Robles I was happy to give another Rabbit Ridge offering a try. So when I stumbled across this one at Trader Joe’s it quickly made its way into the cart. Upon arriving home I was keen to find out how much TJ’s saved me this time as the previous bottle was 50% less than the winery price. This time around I arrived at the site to find a notice that this one was only selling at Trader Joe’s for $5.99. Guessing I don’t have much sway but let me at least let me imagine that was because I called them out last time:).

Off the bat this one engulfs you in fruit. On the nose it is loaded with dark fruits with hints of barrel and spice. On the palate you get a lush mouthful of cherry and plum flavors that last into a finish that is only slightly tannic with a bit of mint. I noticed after I finished this one that it has Petite Sirah added which may explain the heavy accentuation of fruit. If you like that then this one is for you. I myself prefer something a bit more restrained and would recommend these as my top three cabernets at Trader Joe’s today:

Let me know what you think!

Rating: Skip It

2006 Falcon Ridge Syrah

Price: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

A multitude of opinions on this one in the blogsphere but no luck finding any information from the winemaker here…All I can tell you as they seem to be negociant as they appear to be located in Healdsburg but make Syrah in the Central Coast and Zinfandel from Lodi.

What I Think:

After reading this post I added this one to my shopping list and looked forward to giving it a try. Upon opening it you were greeted with a spicy nose, heavy in tannins. On the palate black fruit was apparent early but quickly disappeared and left you with a mineralish finish again heavy in tannins. Think they did some work on this one in the lab. I certainly can’t recommend it, especially with this Gravity Hills Syrah available.

Rating: Skip It