2006 Santa Rita 120 Cabernet Sauvignon

Price: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Palm Bay Imports

What They Said:

Per wine.com on the 2006 Santa Rita 120 Cabernet Sauvignon: “Surprisingly powerful and rich in fruit for its price, this offers black currant and cassis over youthfully rustic tannins. Give it some pork.” -Wines & Spirits “Value Picks”

What I Think:

The Wine & Spirits write up perked my hopes on this one. That said quaffability didn’t say much about this but one word can be pretty powerful!

With my expectations significantly lower I popped the cork. The nose is full of nice medium fruit with a bit of dust and spice. Not unlike the Carmenere without the smokiness. On the palate plums prevail before fading to a finish that is attempting to be velvet like with just a hint of tannin. All in all, a perfect quaffer. At this price point I prefer it to the Chalk Creek, you may not. If you prefer fruit this Chalk Creek should be your choice but if you prefer something a bit more diverse give this one a go.

Rating: 12th Bottle

2006 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Carmenere

2008 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo CarmenerePrice: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Excelsior Wine & Spirits

What They Said:

Per wine.com: “Notes of dark plums and spice, generously framed by toasty American oak with a soft and well structured mouthfilling texture. Excellent with fresh light dishes based in meats, vegetables and fresh herbs. Also a good accompaniment to ripe cheeses such as Gouda, Gruyere or a dry goat cheese.”

What I Think:

Quaffability has a nice write up here and I likewise enjoyed the 2005 version and considered it a work of perfection at the price point. So as you can expect with a new vintage in stores I approached a new bottle with a healthy dose of skepticism.

In a nutshell? A notch below the ’05. That said it had a lot of room to work with. You still get chocolate, mint and spice on the nose. The tongue greets you with the smokiness and fruit that you may remember well before finishing on a spicy, cocoa backbone that lives on in the mouth. It may be splitting hairs but the ’06 version seems less integrated, less fruit on the nose and throughout, a hint of green/farmyard on the nose and palate. This may sound like a downer so let me lift it back up, this is still a winner. I’ll be buying bottles at a time all year long until the ’07 arrives and we repeat this exercise.

Rating: Buy It

2005 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Carmenere

2008 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo CarmenerePrice: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Excelsior Wine & Spirits

What They Said:

Per wine.com: “Looking for an amazing value, delicious and new wine? This wine was what Bordeaux was originally primarily made from, now its found almost exclusively in Chile. This is a delicious example of this incredible variety, which combines the best of Cabernet and Merlot – Concha y Toro makes the best examples of this unique variety in the world.

Dark and deep red. Attractive aromas of dark plums, blackcurrant and chocolate, with hints of coffee and toasted American oak. Notes of dark plums and spice, with a generous touch of toasted American oak and a soft and well structured mouthfilling texture.

Enjoy with fresh light dishes based on meat and vegetables. Also a good accompaniment to ripe cheese.”

What I Think:

Scary, where to start? I have 36 wines waiting for posting. I thought this Carmenere might be a good place to start. This bottle took a ride with me to Tahoe some months back. Given that I came straight home from the office and hopped in the car to drive 3 hours straight through I certainly needed a glass when I was on the other end. It certainly disappoint. Nor the next night when it went up a rather impressive set of palates and wines.

As always, this wine was smoky on the nose with dark fruits and a hint of chocolate. In the mouth it was bold, full bodied and spicy with a nice woody/vanilla lingering finish with. All this time and it’s still the one. It’s like being at the top of the best seller list for a year. There’s no wine at Trader Joe’s that I would rather buy. You should too…

Rating: Bulk Buy

2005 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Carmenere

2008 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo CarmenerePrice: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Excelsior Wine & Spirits

What They Said:

Per wine.com: “Looking for an amazing value, delicious and new wine? This wine was what Bordeaux was originally primarily made from, now its found almost exclusively in Chile. This is a delicious example of this incredible variety, which combines the best of Cabernet and Merlot – Concha y Toro makes the best examples of this unique variety in the world.

Dark and deep red. Attractive aromas of dark plums, blackcurrant and chocolate, with hints of coffee and toasted American oak. Notes of dark plums and spice, with a generous touch of toasted American oak and a soft and well structured mouthfilling texture.

Enjoy with fresh light dishes based on meat and vegetables. Also a good accompaniment to ripe cheese.”

What I Think:

Given that I recently learned that I don’t like all Carmenere I have been anxious to get back to this old favorite. So when the doorbell rang last night and the pizza had arrived it was the obvious choice. I was as pleased as ever. The fruit flavors seemed even bolder than I had remembered. Other than that I have nothing to add beyond what I have said here in the past. I might need to grab a case of this one to put in reserve because I sure will be said when the day comes that TJ’s has no more…

Rating: Bulk Buy

2005 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Carmenere

2008 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo CarmenerePrice: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Excelsior Wine & Spirits

What They Said:

Per wine.com: “Looking for an amazing value, delicious and new wine? This wine was what Bordeaux was originally primarily made from, now its found almost exclusively in Chile. This is a delicious example of this incredible variety, which combines the best of Cabernet and Merlot – Concha y Toro makes the best examples of this unique variety in the world.

Dark and deep red. Attractive aromas of dark plums, blackcurrant and chocolate, with hints of coffee and toasted American oak. Notes of dark plums and spice, with a generous touch of toasted American oak and a soft and well structured mouthfilling texture.

Enjoy with fresh light dishes based on meat and vegetables. Also a good accompaniment to ripe cheese.”

What I Think:

Well lets get his one started by saying there is no doubt that I think this is the best value priced red wine at TJ’s. It is a blend of 85% Carménère, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Syrah. At one point I thought Carmenere was a Chilean grape but later learned it hails from Bordeaux though it is seldom found there nowadays. The first few works that come to mind are “dark and deep”. In more detail, smoky tobacco, loads of dark fruit and hints of coffee with some spice to boot. Nice from the first sip all the way through the long lingering finish. If you haven’t had it yet go get yourself some and if you have go get more. Just don’t tell too many people, I don’t want this one to go away.

Rating: Bulk Buy