2007 Rio Vaca Cabernet Sauvignon

2007 Rio Vaca Cabernet SauvignonPrice: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the bottle “Our Rio Vaca estate vineyard is planted alongside the Vaca Mountains just twenty miles east of California’s most renowned wine growing region. Vaca Small Lot Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is classically structured, full bodied and exudes dark currant and ripe blackberry flavors. 14-months aging in small French and American oak barrels adds layers of spice and imparts a long, supple finish.”

What I Think:

Yesterday I covered the Chardonnay from this winery which I was surprisingly a fan of. I also covered off on the back story of Rio Vaca Vineyards or what I could find of it there. So with those bases covered what do you say we just jump right into their Cabernet offering. Well alrighty then…

Dark, dense in color this shows leafy currants on a dry tannic nose. The palate starts juicy loaded with blueberries (with a slight mineral tinge) before a nice acidity emerges on the mid-palate. From there creamy, vanilla flavors come to the fore before drying out to cheek grabbing tannins which linger on a short finish. Definitely a whole lot of barrel going on here but its well done. Comforting and familiar like a warm blanket. Now I could certainly pick this apart (perhaps thin and a bit hot) but my opinion is that at $6 few will be disappointed by this wine. Furthermore I think it has a chance to pleasantly surprise even more!

Rating: Buy It

2008 Rio Vaca Chardonnay

Price: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

2008 Rio Vaca ChardonnayPer the bottle “We grow world-class Chardonnay grapes on our Rio Vaca estate vineyard alongside the Vaca Mountains just twenty miles east of California’s most renowned wine growing region. Vaca Small Lot Reserve Chardonnay is barrel fermented in 100% French oak to enhance its ripe pineapple, guava and crisp citrus flavors and to impart a long, richly textured finish.”

What I Think:

Whereas the URL (vacawines.com which doesn’t resolve) that is on the bottle is of little help our friends at the TTB can tell us this comes courtesy of Constellation Brands. Some mention of Mondavi and some Ravenswood but nothing definitive there. That said I did find a Rio Vaca Vineyards brand page on the Constellation site that indicated this wine was meant to be priced around $15 retail and was made by Blake Kuhn which may sound familiar to fans of Toasted Head wines. The brand page claims these wines are “Estate-vineyard focused wines just 20 miles from Oakville and Stags Leap on the eastern side of the Vaca Mountains but just $15 instead of $50″. What say the juice? Glad you asked…

Nice pineapple and citrus notes on the nose. Makes me flash back to my younger days when I use to slice pineapple after pineapple before marinating them in Malibu rum and heading off to the Jimmy Buffet concert. And it doesn’t disappoint from there. Rich, full bodied and structured with crisp green apple flavors on the palate and (or but for me…) a toasty, buttery banana finish that lingers on nicely. I actually find this pleasant which make me guess most California Chardonnay lovers would really dig it for $6. If you are out there and have had this one I’d love to hear your thoughts. Otherwise I recommend you grab a bottle soon. I’m headed out to grab more tomorrow and this is all but a lock to appear in the next rendition of my Trader Joe’s Top 10 Wines List!

Rating: Buy It (<- Almost unheard of for Chardonnay...)

Special shout-out to @ericsinsideout for the tip on this one!