Best of Trader Joe’s Wine – Top 10 Wines of May 2008

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Is it already June! Time for another list…The ground rules; wines listed all have to have been either purchased or available during the month to which the post refers. The rankings from the previous month will be provided in parenthesis and I will provide some details on those that have fallen out of the rankings. With a new #1 this month let’s get to it. Without further adieu…

1. 2006 Geyser Peak California Sauvignon Blanc – $8 (Apr Rank: 5) – This is the best Sauvignon Blanc I have ever had including that stuff from the Kiwi’s…

2. 2005 Epicuro Aglianico – $5 (Apr Rank: 1) Off the pedestal, half itching to make a change, half getting used to it. It didn’t stop me from buying another case this month…

3. 2005 XS Red California Cabernet Sauvignon – $4 – From the Hess Family at this price hard to go wrong. Varietal characteristics included. A perfect quaffer. Just don’t buy it at Cost Plus where it cost 50% more.

4. 2003 Red Flyer California Red – $3 – Another low budget winner from Trader Joe’s. With the unique blend here thought about rating this higher than the XS based on uniqueness alone. Do yourself a favor and grab three bottles of each for a case ($60), sit back and enjoy!

5. 2005 Kono Sauvignon Blanc – $8 (Apr Rank: 7) – With the move to a warmer client look for the whites to climb the ranking. This isn’t the Geyser Peak but it is sure a nice change of pace.

6. 2006 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Carmenere – $7 (Apr Rank: 3) – I feel guilty seeing this one all the way down here. Still loving it and sure it will climb back up soon enough.

7. 2004 Columbia Crest Two Vines Cabernet Sauvignon – $6 (Apr Rank: 6) – I had the Grand Estates and still prefer this one.

8. 2005 Gravity Hills Base Camp Syrah – $5 – A winner amongst the Syrah. Most of the offerings here leave me wanting for more. This one has me buying more.

9. 2006 Michel Leon Gewurztraminer – $7 (Apr Rank: 2) – Sweet wines don’t work well with warm weather. That said this is again widely available and great with spicy food.

10. 2006 Callaway California Chardonnay – $5 (Apr Rank: 9) – Still the only California Chard I have enjoyed from Trader Joe’s

Falling – these have seen their stock fall over the last month…

2004 Evans & Tate Cabernet Sauvignon Underground Series – $4 (Apr Rank: 10) – With the XS in town this one has fallen to the wayside. Though will likely give it a try again someday.

2005 Les Moirets Cotes du Rhone – 6 (Apr Rank: 8T)/ 2005 Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve – $7 (Apr Rank: 8T) – These two were tied for 8th in April and I have a bottle of each awaiting the tiebreaker. They have been waiting all month thus the fall from glory. One will likely rejoin in June. Stay tuned…

2003 Columbia Crest Two Vines Merlot – $6 – This one wasn’t ranked in April but since I am still buying more it is on the fringe and worthy of note.

Gone – these appear to no longer be available…let me know if you have seen them!

2006 Castle Rock Monterrey County Pinot Noir – $10 (Apr Rank: 4) – Looks like the Mendocino and the California labels are the only ones remaining.

And that’s 10 for May…Let me know what you think via the comments and ratings. Appreciate all those to date and do realize I owe some responses.  I will catch up soon! Look for a lot of new white reviews in June and perhaps even some bubbly….

Cheers,

Jason

Best of Trader Joe’s Wine – Top 10 Wines of April 2008

If you arrived here and are interested in the latest top 10 list, follow this link now!

Another month, another list! Quick refresher on the ground rules; wines listed all have to have been either purchased or available during the month to which the post refers. The rankings from the previous month will be provided in parenthesis and I will provide some details on those that have fallen out of the rankings. Now on to the good stuff…

1. 2005 Epicuro Aglianico – $5 (Mar Rank: 1) – Four months running…I wanted to move it down, but it is too unique and enjoyable at this price to do so without a worthy replacement.

2. 2006 Michel Leon Gewurztraminer – $7 (Mar Rank: 5) – Leaving me before I even knew you. I grabbed another bottle of this earlier in the month but haven’t seen it since.

3. 2006 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Carmenere – $7 (Mar Rank: 2) – Still delivering. When it just “needs” to be good I grab this one every time.

4. 2006 Castle Rock Monterrey County Pinot Noir – $10 (Mar Rank: 6) – Getting back on a Pinot kick and this one is delivering.

5. 2006 Geyser Peak California Sauvignon Blanc – $8 (Mar Rank: 4) – I love the Groth but this is just as good at half the cost.

6. 2004 Columbia Crest Two Vines Cabernet Sauvignon – $6 (Mar Rank: 3) – I enjoyed this one enough to spend the extra $2 on the Grand Estates. Stay tuned to see what a difference it makes.

7. 2005 Kono Sauvignon Blanc – $8 (Mar Rank: 8) – Warmer weather on the horizon means time to stock up.

8 (tie). 2005 Les Moirets Cotes du Rhone – 6 (Mar Rank: NR)/ 2005 Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve – $7 (Mar Rank: NR) – It was hard to make a call on these first time around. They are due for a face to face taste off. The comments on quaffability leave me nervous about the Les Moirets.

9. 2006 Callaway California Chardonnay – $5 (Mar Rank: 7) – Chardonnay where you can taste the fruit. What a pleasant surprise!

10. 2004 Evans & Tate Cabernet Sauvignon Underground Series – $4 (Mar Rank: 9) – Good news it was only $4, looking forward to the next bottle.

Falling – these have seen their stock fall over the last month…

2003 Columbia Crest Two Vines Merlot – $6 (Mar Rank: 10) – I bought another bottle just days ago so it hasn’t fallen all that far but something had to go…

Gone – these appear to no longer be available…let me know if you have seen them!

I think both the Michel Leon Gewurztraminer and the Castle Rock Monterry Pinot are in slim supply if not gone so if of interest grab them sooner rather than later!

And that’s 10 for April…Look for a big mix up in May as I have a bunch of new wines on hands and the first few look promising. I’ll get those posted soon!

Cheers,

Jason

Best of Trader Joe’s Wine – Top 10 Wines of March 2008

If you arrived here and are interested in the latest top 10 list, click here. Otherwise please read on.

And I’m back for more with lots of new discoveries this month. To repeat the ground rules, the only one is that the wines listed all have to have been either purchased or available during the month to which the post refers. Again I will place the rankings from the previous month in parenthesis and provide some details on those that have fallen out of the rankings. Without further adieu here are the rankings:

1. 2005 Epicuro Aglianico – $5 (Feb Rank: 1) – Third month in a row and still enjoying each and every bottle.

2. 2006 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Carmenere – $7 (Feb Rank: 2) – Old reliable. When it just “needs” to be good I grab this one every time.

3. 2004 Columbia Crest Two Vines Cabernet Sauvignon – $6 (Feb Rank: NR) – I’ve been doing a varietal tour of the Columbia Crest Two Vines and this one was a revelation. If you are new to wine start here!

4. 2006 Geyser Peak California Sauvignon Blanc – $8 (Feb Rank: 4) – Now that the weather is getting better I expect to be enjoying this one more and more often.

5. 2006 Michel Leon Gewurztraminer – $7 (Feb Rank: NR) – A worthy Alsacian replacement for the Marcel Hugg.

6. 2006 Castle Rock Monterrey County Pinot Noir – $10 (Feb Rank: 9) – I had another bottle this month and was pleased. Still seems pricey but if you just have to have a Pinot this is the one.

7. 2006 Callaway California Chardonnay – $5 (Feb Rank: NR) – Those regular readers out there may be picking themselves off the floor finding a Chard here but it is true. Give it a try and you’ll see why!

8. 2005 Kono Sauvignon Blanc – $8 (Feb Rank: 6) – Still in stock and with warmer weather looming looking forward to drinking some more white.

9. 2004 Evans & Tate Cabernet Sauvignon Underground Series – $5 (Feb Rank: NR) – Can’t quite remember if this cost $4 or $5 but either way this screwcap is a great offering for the price.

10. 2003 Columbia Crest Two Vines Merlot – $6 (Feb Rank: 5) – This one falls though not sure if it isn’t being treated unfairly based on a sibling being rated #3. I still have another bottle here so I haven’t stopped buying it yet.

Falling – these have seen their stock fall over the last month…

2006 Aquila d’Oro Toscana – $4 (Feb Rank: 8) – Still nice but with the Aglianico ranking #1 my focus has shifted outside of Italy for the time being.

2005 Archero Nero d’ Avola Ruggero di Tasso – $4 (Feb Rank: 10) – Ditto above!

Gone – these appear to no longer be available…let me know if you have seen them!

2005 Rocking Horse Napa Valley Zinfandel – $8 (Feb Rank: 3) – Think this may still be around but haven’t seen it lately…

2004 Chasing Clouds Central Ranges Shiraz – $3 (Feb Rank: 7) – Again ditto above!

That’s a wrap! If you are enjoying these Top 10 list please leave me a comment to let me know. Been a little less motivated to post lately so I could use the feedback!

Best of Trader Joe’s Wine – Top 10 Wines of February 2008

If you arrived here and are interested in the latest top 10 list, click here. Otherwise please read on.

The calendar has turned meaning it is time to review the Top 10 Trader Joe’s Wines for February. To repeat the ground rules, the only one is that the wines listed all have to have been either purchased or available during the month to which the post refers. As a new addition to this post I will place the rankings from the previous month in parenthesis and provide some details on those that have fallen out of the rankings. Without further adieu here they are with some quick notes for a recap:

1. 2005 Epicuro Aglianico – $5 (Jan Rank: 1) – My relentlessness paid off here when I was able to grab a case. Just saw it again in Daly City yesterday. If I drink it fast enough maybe I can get another…

2. 2006 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Carmenere – $7 (Jan Rank: 2) – This wine is as dependable as it gets. You can always find it and it is always good. Given the lack of good, affordable Zinfandel I have been heavily reliant on this one over the last three months or so.

3. 2005 Rocking Horse Napa Valley Zinfandel – $8 (Jan Rank: NR) – As the post clearly shows I put this one through the ringer and it delivered with the pressure on. Not the big fruit variety but a nice balanced effort that hasn’t been seen at Trader Joe’s for quite some time.

4. 2006 Geyser Peak California Sauvignon Blanc – $8 (Jan Rank: 3) – This one still amazes me and I’m not the only one who thinks so!

5. 2003 Columbia Crest Two Vines Merlot – $6 (Jan Rank: NR) – A Merlot here? I can barely believe it myself. But with three more bottles in the rack it must be real.

6. 2005 Kono Sauvignon Blanc – $8 (Jan Rank: 7) – Oh so refreshing! Love the zingy, lemony, lip smacking finish.

7. 2004 Chasing Clouds Central Ranges Shiraz – $3 (Jan Rank: 10) – Moved up the ranks by beating the Block 50 Shiraz which is twice the cost of this one.

8. 2006 Aquila d’Oro Toscana – $4 (Jan Rank: NR) – Another surprise as this hails from Northern Italy. A light, fruity quaffer that is high in acid making it a perfect compliment for your pasta tonight. I picked up the Chianti the other day we’ll see if that one can make the cut as well.

9. 2006 Castle Rock Monterrey County Pinot Noir – $10 (Jan Rank: NR) – At this price I hate to put it in here but a great drinking Pinot for $10 deserves the acclaim. Be sure to note this is the Monterrey bottling, my experience with the Willamette was not quite as good

10. 2005 Archero Nero d’ Avola Ruggero di Tasso – $4 (Jan Rank: 9) – Was thinking when I had the above that only one of these would make the cut. After further review they are different enough that I made room for both. This one has much heavier fruit with earthy undertones that make it a much more rustic effort.

Falling – these have seen their stock fall over the last month…

2006 Abrazo Del Toro Carinena Tinto – $5 (Jan Rank: 4) – May have jumped the gun on this one. I’ve had a few more bottles and while still good I remembered it having a little more fruit to balance out the acid.

2003 Epicuro Salice Salentino Riserva – $5 (Jan Rank: 5) – I’ve had another three bottles of this and still find it interesting the problem is at the end of the night I find myself straddling the fence. Those ranked this month don’t leave me is this dilemma…

Gone – these appear to no longer be available…let me know if you have seen them!

2005 Marcel Hugg Gewurztraminer – $8 (Jan Rank: 6th) – Hope this one reappears at some point. The Alsace at these prices is unheard of…

2005 Chalk Creek Mendocino County Petite Sirah -$5 (Jan Rank: 8th) – Would have really liked to try another bottle of this one…

Best of Trader Joe’s Wine – Top 10 Wines of January 2008

If you arrived here and are interested in the latest top 10 list, click here. Otherwise please read on.

Following the success of my Top 10 TJ’s Wines of 2007 post I have decided to make it a monthly staple. With that, here are the ground rules, actually just one which makes it simple. The wines listed all have to have been either purchased or available during the month to which the post refers. Without further adieu here they are with some quick notes for a recap:

1. 2005 Epicuro Aglianico ($5) – Aglianico’ at TJ’s, I couldn’t believe it. Like my mom always told me if it seems to good to be true it must be. I grabbed two bottles on initial sight and went back two days later and it was gone. I’ve since tried 5 more locations some multiple times to no avail…Hope the next shipment is on the way.

2. 2006 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Carmenere ($7) – Not the ’05 but still a winner. The combination of fruit, smoke and spice can’t be beat.

3. 2006 Geyser Peak California Sauvignon Blanc ($8) – Wow! This is likely the best Sauvignon Blanc I’ve had that isn’t from New Zealand. Get yourself a bottle.

4. 2006 Abrazo Del Toro Carinena Tinto ($5) – This blend of Grenache/Tempranillo (80/20) delivers tastes of strawberries on a dry backbone that led to a earthy, spicy finish. I grabbed another half case of this one.

5. 2003 Epicuro Salice Salentino Riserva ($5) – A big month for Italian wines, perhaps I have found my niche in Southern Italy.

6. 2005 Marcel Hugg Gewurztraminer ($8) – A great introduction to the Alsace for those unfamiliar and an opportunity for me to stock up before it disappears!

7. 2005 Kono Sauvignon Blanc ($8) – Anyone that hasn’t had a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand start here, get it while it last.

8. 2005 Chalk Creek Mendocino County Petite Sirah ($5) – Rich & robust with hints of varietal character. A lot of bang for your buck but for some from a fruit perspective this may be too far over the top.

9. 2005 Archero Nero d’ Avola Ruggero di Tasso ($4) – This one just reappeared in the stores, guessing the first batch was a success and they went back to get more. Hopefully the quality hasn’t slipped. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

10. 2004 Chasing Clouds Central Ranges Shiraz ($3) – A bit of barnyard and earthiness in the nose with dark fruits and chocolate lingering within. The palate holds itself together quite well for the $3 investment.

Best of Trader Joe’s Wine – Top 10 Wines of 2007

If you arrived here and are interested in the latest top 10 list, click here. Otherwise please read on.

I thought I would put together a little recap of my version of the top ten wines of the year from Trader Joe’s.  Unfortunately, few remain.  I have seen three of these as of late and have reason to believe you may be able to discover two of the others.  Another three have moved on to the next vintage leaving the top two nowhere to be found (meaning if you do let me know).  Without further adieu here they are with some quick notes for a recap:

1. 2003 Beringer Clear Lake Zinfandel ($7) – This wine is fantastic, I was able to procure 9 bottles, 6 of which have made there way down the hatch.  Still looking forward to the last 3 bottles and keen to try more from the Clear Lake area, wish this was still around.

2. 2005 Santa Ynez Valley Winery Cabernet Franc ($9) – Wow did I miss the boat on this one.  After reading about this on quaffability I grabbed two bottles.  By the time I made it back it was gone.  Would love to stumble across another case of this!

3. 2005 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Carmenere ($7) – So sad this one has gone, made it thorugh another half a case before it disappeared, now on to 2006 which still is worth buying but I would rank it a bit lower than this offering.

4. 2005 Santa Ynez Valley Winery Gewurztraminer ($7) – A great gewurtz and one of the first of a few I was able to sample from this winery. Each one has been a hit, don’t hesitate to buy them on sight! The ’05 is history but the ’06 is in the stores now. Lucky me, still one in the rack.

5. 2005 Marcel Hugg Pinot Blanc ($8) – This one is from the Alsatian region of France which I have always found compelling and this Pinot Blanc is a winner.  Alas it is all gone except for the one last bottle in the fridge, though I think there may still be some bottles lurking in the stores if you look hard enough.

6. 2004 Castineira Albarino Dry White Wine ($8) – A sucker for all things Spanish this one quickly worked its way into my repertoire and then disappeared just as fast. The ’06 appeared shortly there after but isn’t in the same league. Keep your fingers crossed for ’07.

7. 2005 Kono Sauvignon Blanc ($8) – Finally one that is still available. Anyone that hasn’t had a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand start here, get it while it last.

8. 2005 Marcel Hugg Gewurztraminer ($8) – The second winery to have multiple appearances in the top 10 and the second bottling to still be seen on the shelves. A great introduction to the Alsace for those unfamiliar and an opportunity for me to stock up before it disappears!

9. 2003 Rocking Horse Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon ($10) – The most interesting wine on this list in that it is not made for the masses, a real dry chalky number that many may not find appealing. I like it, you may not which may be why it is still on the shelves. Makes me wonder if it has any aging potential. I still have two bottles and the chance to grab more.

10. NV Rabbit Ridge Allure de Robles ($6) – Another interesting choice to round out the list, a blend that is primarily of GSM which I always find intriguing, and from the central coast certainly unexpected. On taste if doesn’t match the typical GSM profile at all, it comes across more as a cheap man’s Pinot with nice light fruit. I’ll take it and you may be able to as well if you look hard enough. It is still lurking in stores on occasion.

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And now on to the bonus round….Hard to call anything in particular out as the value wines of the year in a Trader Joe’s capacity so let’s call these the top two quaffers of the year.  These are wines that you can open guilt free after the first of the night has disappeared and know that you won’t be disappointed if you did.  Without further ado…

1. 2005 Amaicha Bonarda ($2) – The best of the best. Open it to make a spaghetti sauce and finish after the bottle of the night is gone. I bought three cases of this one and but a bit remains. Good luck in the stores here in CA but back in WI where I was for Xmas you can pay $5 a bottle. As for me I’ll just enjoy the bottles I have left.

2. 2005 Archero Nero d’ Avola Ruggero di Tasso ($4) – An Italian wine, my struggles with Italy are well documented, much to my surprise. The Nero d’ Avola grape hails from Sicily and I’ll be looking in that direction more in the future.

Both of these bottles makes me wonder what you can get from these grapes if you spend just a bit more, I’m guessing just disappointment. Much the same as when I realized this one was no longer in the stores. As a goal for 2008 I’ll try to publish a monthly list so you can get these while they are still in the stores. Happy New Year to all!