2008 Il Valore Sangiovese

Price: $2.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Americal Beverage Group

What They Said:

2008 Il Valore SangiovesePer the bottle “This 100% Sangiovese wine from the Puglia region is smooth and fruity with a touch of red berries.”

What I Think:

I had this one a while back and promised to revisit it. I did so, beginning with the label. Sangiovese traditionally hails from Tuscany, the center of the Italian wine world. This one, however, comes from the heel of the boot in Puglia which is located on the southern Italian peninsula. Wonder what the difference in terroir might mean…

With spaghetti squash pasta on the table I decided to take the opportunity to find out. The nose is muted. The palate delivers racy acid that settles nicely with food showing dried cherry & herb notes. This likely isn’t one those new to wine would enjoy and I wouldn’t recommend drinking it on its own. While complimenting its merits I was reminded of a comment I saw from joshiemac on RJ’s Wine Blog. Prior to that I would have called this one a nice table wine, but think joshiemac’s nice cooking wine is much more appropriate. This isn’t something to impress your friends with but it is a perfect wine for sipping while simmering some spaghetti sauce…

If you’re interested in another take check out what The Gourmez had to say about this one.

Rating: Buy It

2008 La Finca Malbec

Price: $3.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Americal Beverage Group

What They Said:

2008 La Finca MalbecPer the bottle “The vineyards of Finca La Celia lie in the foothills of the Argentine Andes. Stunning purple color. Its bouquet is intense, rich in blackcurrant, vanilla and spices. On the palate the soft and succulent ripe fruits follow through with surprising delicacy. The tannins are silky, coming subtly from the forefront and giving a lingering finish. This is a wine to enjoy with meat dishes and pasta with meat and tomato sauces.”

What I Think:

Long a sucker for the wines of Argentina I have waited endlessly for Trader Joe’s to deliver me a knockout in the super value category as there are an abundance of very pleasing wines available in the $8-$12 price range. But the list of wines that has disappointed me is long and distinguished; La Boca, Terrenal and Fuerza roll readily from my tongue. Could these La Finca offerings change the tides of history? It started off positive with a mention of not only a winery but the website for Finca La Celia. Granted, I had never heard of the winery but for many Trader Joe’s offerings I can spend quite some time trying to determine exactly who it was that made the wine in the bottle. In this case someone was proud that they were behind this one. As I browsed the site it became clear that maybe “proud” wasn’t the right choice of words as there was no mention of the “La Finca” offerings to be found. But hey at least they were willing to admit it! Let’s see what the wine had to say about itself…

Quite a build up, followed by quite a letdown. Hey, I wanted to share my real life experience with this bottle! Surprisingly light in color, really hot on the nose with hints of white pepper. The palate has some berry flavors on top of a highly acidic backbone that holds on through the the finish. This wine shows no varietal correctness and at best is innocuous. Looking at the bottle the 12.5% alcohol content confirms my suspicion that this is much lighter than your ordinary Malbec that typically clocks in at 14-15%. By the way, La Finca is also offering a Cabernet, steer clear of that one as well. Nothing special here.

It continues to puzzle me that Trader Joe’s can’t deliver on my favorite red value varietal. Look like I’ll be stocking up on the Pascual Toso again soon…

Rating: Skip It

2007 King Shag Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

Price: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Americal Beverage Group

What They Said:

Per 2guysuncorked and I’ll go with Ted on this one…”This is probably the best sauvignon blanc I’ve had that is under $10. On the nose it’s bursting with citrus and fruity notes and it finishes with crisp acidity, that lingers just a bit as it reveals a slightly grassy finish. It would go great with some spicy food dishes, and it even holds up well to some spicy mango chicken I made to go with it.”

What I Think:

As many of you know I am a big fan of Sauvignon Blanc, especially from New Zealand. This one is completely typical of the Kiwi offering and in this case it is a good thing. It had the nice pale color, a nose of grapefruit and grassy aromas. On the palate you are greeted with a crisp flavorless start leading to floral and mineral undertones followed by a tangy and tingly lemon finish. Gooseberry is omnipresent throughout. We had this one with a salmon salad which was a perfect pairing. Thinking this is better than the Kono (and cheaper). Better than the Geyser Peak? Not sure but who cares, this Sauvignon Blanc trio at Trader Joe’s is one of the best deals going. Pick any of the three and you can’t go wrong. Better yet, get them all and let me know which is your favorite.

Rating: Buy It

NV Zonin Prosecco Brut

Price: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Americal Beverage Group

What They Said:

Per Wine Enthusiast “An enjoyable bubbly with good creamy froth, white peach, mineral and hard candy tones that are nicely balanced and spread throughout. It has a thick consistency and a snappy, crisp close.”

What I Think:

My second endeavor into the bubbly section at Trader Joe’s. The first time I grabbed a Sekt, now a Prosecco and I also have a Cava in the fridge now. Guess I should grab one from France next time! As for Prosecco, raise your hand if you knew that was a grape… That is only one of the interesting things I learned in this brief Wikipedia article. I also learned that this grape is grown in northern Italy and often used to make Asti. That give anyone else flashbacks to high school or just me?

Could this wine be any smoother? Wilder on Wine calls it easy-going. I couldn’t agree more. The wine is frothy in the glass and shows floral aromas with hints of citrus on the nose. On the palate you are greeted by what other than bubbles, not much fruit to be found as this one is dry throughout. Towards the end it shows traces of mineral that disappear as fast as they arrive. The finish is very clean, nothing lingers on.

As much as I would like to compare this to the Sekt I cannot. They don’t share much in common beyond the bubbles. Oh yeah, that and the fact that I will be buying more of both of them!

Rating: Buy It

2005 Marcel Hugg Gewurztraminer

Price: $7.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Americal Beverage Group

What They Said:

Per the winery …well their website has yet to be updated with any details and google wasn’t showing me anything new, so it appears you still have to trust me on this one…

What I Think:

I have been enjoying these wines from Marcel Hugg over the last month or two. As I mentioned sometime back all things Alsace bring back fond memories and these wines have done nothing to alter that notion.

As usual I started this one off a bit over chilled. Even still it had the perfect Gewurzt nose with aromas of flowers, minerals and white fruit all commingling to form a pleasant bouquet. When cooled to room temperature, perfect smells of citrus rinds on the nose. A hearty texture coats the mouth. Floral flavors but can’t get more specific, at times I find myself thinking of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Having the Kono handy I do a comparison and those thoughts quickly disappear. Finishes with a touch of sweetness on the mid-palate before rounding into a nice, rich dry finish that seems familiar, nice… Not quite as minerally as I remember it but certainly a perfect match for the spice of the Thai meal that it was paired with.

If you only have budget for one get the Pinot Blanc. Better yet, skip lunch today and get both. You won’t be disappointed.

Rating: Buy It

2005 Marcel Hugg Pinot Blanc

Price: $7.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Americal Beverage Group

What They Said:

Per the winery Found their site but nothing about this or the gewurzt there. Since I couldn’t find anyone to speak on the experts behalf you’ll have to trust me :)

What I Think:

This is a repeat buy for me as I had another bottle of this Pinot Blanc a few weeks back. I don’t have much to add to that initial review except that this one did not disappoint. It was everything I remembered it to be. This wine would be great on its own, with some cheese or seafood or even some Asian cuisine. One thing to always remember with white is not to drink it too cold, it may taste okay but it won’t be able to fully express itself. I have one friend who goes to the opposite extreme and his whites at room temperature. I know that doesn’t work for me so my general plan is to try and put it in the fridge for a half hour and then take it out 5-10 minutes before planning to drink it. No need to take my advice; check out this site for some tips of your own. Back to the wine, I have upped this one to a Bulk Buy. Here’s to enjoying it while it lasts!

Rating: Bulk Buy

2005 Marcel Hugg Gewurztraminer

Price: $7.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Americal Beverage Group

What They Said:

Per the winery well nothing, but I did find their website. Think it may be new as I didn’t find this last time.

What I Think:

The second half of my Alsatian bargain pair and another winner. Flowers (I am terrible at identifying which ones) and some light fruit on the nose. In the mouth a nice dry style with a minerally backbone. A very nice wine and a perfect example of an Alsatian effort. Usually I try to pair this with Asian cuisine but this would go with nearly anything. This is a region I need to learn more about. Would love to do a side by side with this and the Santa Ynez I enjoyed so much. Maybe I will…

Rating: Buy it

2005 Marcel Hugg Pinot Blanc

Price: $7.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by American Beverage Group

What They Said:

Couldn’t find anyone to speak on the experts behalf so you’ll have to trust me…

What I Think:

An Alsatian wine at a bargain price, count me in for trying every time. Again, think this is three posts in a row, nostalgia reigns. My first birthday with my wife she took me to Fleur de Lys, Hubert Keller’s restaurant. He hails from this region and tailors some of the cuisine to pair with the wines. Ever since the Alsace makes me think of good things. This is a wine that did not disappoint that conceived notion. It had that nice soft, round fruit on top of that zippy mineral backbone that I have come to remember wines from this region for. This one will certainly be back in my cart. When I picked up this one I grabbed its sibling Gewurzt. Can’t wait to get to that one. Hope they don’t sell out before I get back…

Rating: Buy it

2005 Il Tarocco Chianti Classico

Price: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by American Beverage Group (could be wrong on this price, I’ll check next time)

What They Said:

Per the winery “Grapes: selected grapes Sangiovese (90%) and black tuscany Canaiolo (10%) coming from vineyards more than 20 years old; bottled since 1992.

Characteristics: Intense ruby colour. Elegant smell of beautiful mature red fruit with floral notes and balanced taste, full, intense and persistent.

Il Tarocco conserve his own characteristics for 10-12 years.

Combinations: tasty pasta, white and red meats, stewed meat, matured cheeses and rich plates of flavour and substance.”

What I Think:

I think I have had most of the Chianti that has come through TJ’s. They are usually drinkable but not memorable. This one certainly matches that profile. I did notice that the blend was 90% Sangiovese and 10% Canaiolo Nero. It seemed like they were going with the truly classical style of a balanced wine but they didn’t quite hit the mark.

Rating: Skip It