2009 Trentatre Rosso

A long-time favorite the 2007 version of this wine has previously graced the #1 spot in my Trader Joe’s Top 10 Wine List . Back then the label mentioned it was discovered “quite by chance” given that (plus the history, or lack thereof, of Trader Joe’s wines delivering from vintage to vintage) I was somewhat reticent to grab the latest offering. Would my gut read be right? Let’s see…

2009 Trentatre RossoPrice: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Santini Fine Wines

What They Said:

Per the bottle “This unique wine comes from the Apulia Region located in the depth of Southern Italy. The blend is an equal amount of three different varietals. Cabernet Sauvignon 33,3%, Merlot 33,3%, and Montepulciano 33,4% collectively aged six months in oak barrels, hence the name “Trentatre” which in Italian means Thirtythree. The color is a deep purple-red with a pleasant fruity nose with hints of plum, cherry, and chocolate. Full bodied, it has a supple finish with soft tannins. Enjoy it with pasta, pizza, grilled meats, seasoned cheese…or even on its own!”

What I Think:

(14%) 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 33% Montepulciano – An old time favorite that I haven’t revisited I was surprised (and happy) to find this one is still as easy drinking as ever. Nice clove spice on the nose. The palate is smooth with nice fruit (perhaps a touch sweet) and a balanced acidity. From there the clove spice emerges and leads to a dry, warm, lingering finish with hints of dusty cocoa powder. Not nuanced or complex in anyway but a well-made wine without the rough edges or cloying sweetness you find in many similar wines at this ($6) price point. Any early favorite to grab a top spot in my 2011 Holidays Edition of the Trader Joe’s Top 10 Wines List…

Rating: Buy It

2007 Trentatre Rosso

2007 Trentatre RossoPrice: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Santini Fine Wines

What They Said:

Per the bottle “Trentatre in Italian means: Thirty-three. We came up with this belnd of three exciting varietals quite by chance when barrel tasting “TATA” a Montepulciano is the winemaker’s cellar. Amongst the barrels of Montepulciano ageing in the wine cellars, we discovered Merlot and Cabernet which had been sitting in oak barrels for quite some time used on occasions for blending. We were of the opinion that if one was to make a wine using Montepulciano (earthy, tannic with hints of cherry) with Cabernet (rich, intense and long lasting) and then add Merlot (soft, ripe and juicy) we may have reinvented the wheel (just kidding). Blending an equal amount of these three varietals, barrel aged for six months and bada-bing you get 33! Hence the name Trentatre.”

What I Think:

Another one I’ve been drinking for a while, this was bottle three or four, but been slow to review. As mentioned above, Trentatre is Italian for “33” which represents the blend percentage for three grapes that make up this wine; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Montepulciano. This one is super Tuscan-“ish” compared to my standby Italian offerings which are bright and acidic. On the nose you get dried cherry petals and a hint of mint. The palate starts with the same cherries before delivering a coffee (grounds) component. The body is full and plush and the wine is well balanced with tannins throughout. The finish is dry, a bit chalky and shows some oak along with lasting, dusty chocolate notes. It seems to have more age to it than the “2007” listed on the bottle. Perhaps the Cab and Merlot were truly sitting around for “quite some time”. Either way, I’m sure I’ll grab another bottle or two of this one on my next Trader Joe’s run.

Rating: Buy It

2006 Aquila d’Oro Chianti

Price: $3.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Santini Fine Wines

What They Said:

Per corkd.com, via my fellow amateurs as no professional input is available: “Aficionados of dry Chianti may stop reading now, assuming any actually are. Which I doubt. Anyway, this inexpensive Trader Joe’s offering most likely won’t win any awards, but it certainly is a pleasant, easily-drinkable wine. I served it with a pleasant, easily-eatable meal, which was a pleasant and easily-enjoyable experience for my family. The nose has some blackberry and pepper, maybe a little anise, which went well with the fennel in the meal. The taste is at first grapey and slightly fruity-sweet; the finish more tannic and peppery. I like it a lot, but if you read my other reviews, you’ll find that I tend to like nearly EVERYTHING.”

What I Think:

After enjoying a few bottles of the Toscana I thought I would give this Chianti a go to see if it could match the performance. Alas, no was the answer. It wasn’t all that far off. At the end of the day this wine ending up coming off as thin or better said short on fruit. Not bad, but not worth trying unless you love Chianti. Otherwise grab the Toscana or try one of these Epicuro offerings.

Rating: Skip It

2006 Aquila d’Oro Toscana

Price: $3.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Santini Fine Wines

What They Said:

Found some limited coverage on the Chianti that was favorable but nothing on this one…

What I Think:

When I bought this one I actually thought I was getting this Toscana. Later when I matched up the labels I realized that was not the case. Certainly cause for concern given my spotty history with wines from northern Italy. Not to be worried here. This one is a winner, light and fruity with a racy acidic backbone. Perfect match for tomato sauce! Try it with your pasta tonight, I’ll be doing the same as I grabbed another bottle.

Rating: Buy It

1997 “Che Storia” Barbaresco Riserva

Price: $9.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Santini Fine Wines

What They Said:

I’ve spent more time searching for a write-up on this than anything else on the site…With that time I turned up nothing. Not that it matters, even if I love this wine none of us will ever find it again.

What I Think:

As mentioned above this one took some investigating to track down. There were lots of random markings on the bottle. It was imported by Santini but they had no information available this far back. Eventually I was able to track down, or at least I think, that it was bottled by Casa Vinicola Bosco Malera. This is only the second bottle I have had from Santini but when pulling the cork and seeing their name upon I recalled the other had the same. I wonder to what level their involvement goes. It appears as if they are custom making these wines for export.

Moving on, this bottle had been in my basement for quite some time. It may even have been the eldest member of the closet. On this Sunday I started making my Bonarda based pasta sauce at about three in the afternoon. Expecting good things I wanted to open a nice bottle of Italian wine. I have two that are in the $50 plus category around and outside of those two this was the best available. My frustration with my ability to truly enjoy Italian wines has been covered often here, given that the pickings were thin. I bought this long ago @ TJ’s which has carried it throughout the vintages (think they have the ’03 now). Given that the ’97 vintage from Piedmont was near perfect my hopes were running high!

Now to the tasting, after the first swirl and sip I found myself thinking could this be the one? Pulling the cork out I found it wet about half the way up, thought that may be of note. Hey it’s not often I open bottles of wine that are ten years old. On pouring into the decanter it may a good impression. Nice nose, interesting ruby/brown color. In the glass the nose seemed complex. It smells like, what I believe, an Italian red wine should. There are plum and cherries commingling but brooding with a hint of mint and loads of spices toward the end. On the palate the flavor profile reflects the aromas before a nice, complex, thick textured finish leaves tannins tingling in the mouth. As I was enjoying I began to wonder if my lackluster history with Italian wine make this seem better than it is. As it sat in the glass it seemed to be getting lighter in color (more brown) by the minute.

Either way, you are never quite sure what it is but the mystery is intriguing as it keeps you constantly guessing but you can never quite figure it out. This alone made it worth the experience. At $12 it is a little to expensive for a 12th bottle so we will upgrade to a rating of “Pricey” I have a bottle of the same wine from 2001. I’ll open that soon to see what a difference ten years in the bottle makes. If given the opportunity to buy the ’97 now I would do so again, as I don’t we will wait for the ’01 results before passing a verdict on these offerings.

Rating: Pricey

2005 Vigna del Gelso Malbech

Price: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Santini Fine Wines

What They Said:

Per quaffability “Quick – I say Malbec, you say… ?

What did you say? Argentina, probably. Maybe Cahors. Perhaps Bordeaux or Napa, if you’re a student of wine history, as the grape has fallen out of favor in both.

Did you know a little Malbec is grown in Veneto? I didn’t, until I spotted this wine at Trader Joe’s. The Italians call it Malbech. Evidently, the warm climate there helps to tame the grape’s notoriously firm grip.

This wine has a plumy nose with a minor herbal element of black tea and tobacco. In the mouth the wine isn’t brooding, like one expects, but supple and surprisingly light. Tannins are soft, the finish is clean. This is interesting and drinkable at this price, though not remarkable, so I would buy one but hold off on buying a case.”

What I Think:

Again, grabbed this when shopping to for the Rocking Horse last week. I had this grand idea of side by side tasting of Malbec from four different countries as I currently had bottles from the US, France and Argentina. It was a thought but it didn’t make it beyond that stage.

I grabbed this for the fajitas the other night when the Riesling wasn’t doing it for me. It did an okay job there. Over the next few days as I tried this wine I found it to be very light bodied. The palate seemed to mainly consist of black cherries that bordered on the sour side. There was nary a tannin to be found. Given that it was Italian and Malbec I thought this had the potential to be of interest but there is nothing to see here besides a simple, light wine. I’d recommend trying another.

Rating: Skip It