2008 Liberte Cabernet Sauvignon

This is a guest post from Bob Dwyer of the The Wellesley Wine Press which, for those not familiar, covers “a consumer’s view on finding, enjoying, and sharing great wines at great prices” so as you can imagine we are often sharing tips! If you are interested in taking a look for yourself check out his value alerts or his latest hyper value finds.
2008 Liberte Cabernet SauvignonPrice: $9.99 @ Trader Joe’s in Framingham, MA

What They Said:

Per the bottle “With its elegant red huge and powerful palate this 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon delivers an exceptional bouquet of blackberries, autumnal leaves and baking spices followed by opulent flavors of clove and marzipan. Serve with stuffed poblano peppers, roasted beet salad or tortilla soup with pressed Cuban sandwiches. Decant 15 to 30 minutes.”

What Bob Thinks:

A surprisingly hefty bottle with a raised label for a $9.99 California Cab. When I mentioned to the wine helmsman at Trader Joe’s that the label reminded me of the Chariot Gypsy he pointed out 3 or 4 other wines that have a similar looking woman on the label (Novella Synergy for example).

Deep dark red/burgundy in color. Not quite opaque but nearly. On the nose I get black pepper, deep black fruit and a little vegetal component I’d associate with Chilean reds blind. The mouthfeel is quite smooth initially, but on the backend I catch a little heat from alcohol with nice savory aromas lingering on in the glass. All in all a flavorful Paso Robles red priced on par with the amount of enjoyment it delivered.

Bob’s Rating: 12th Bottle
Thanks again to Bob for sharing this post. Have any of you had this wine? If so we would love to hear what you think in the comments below…

2008 Pacific Rim Autumnus White

This is a guest post from JB who is a frequent commenter here on the site. For those that aren’t familiar he frequently points out the latest and greatest Trader Joe’s finds long before I get to them. When he mentioned the Autumnus I let him know I was unlikely to try it (sounded too sweet) and asked if he might do a guest post. He was kind enough to agree. If anyone else is interested in doing the same let me know in the comments.
2008 Pacific Rim Autumnus WhitePrice: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per Pacific Rim “Autumnus represents everything that is beautiful about food and wine — bounty, variety and complexity. Washington State provides the ideal terroir for the varietals we’ve selected for our wine: Riesling, Chenin Blanc and Gewürztraminer.

The vision for Autumnus was to craft a wine where each component would bring its own individuality and, at the same time, harmonically counterbalance the individuality of the other component. The Riesling brings floral aromatics and bright, fresh acidity; the Chenin Blanc lends a clean minerality and beautiful citrus characteristic; and the Gewüztraminer lends a soft, round mouthfeel with subtle flavors of passion fruit.

Autumnus is crafted to pair with a diverse canvas of foods. Our white blend would be a lovely pairing with fresh, local foods such as a simple spring salad. The bright acidity of the wine would complement more rich foods like grilled fish with a cream-based sauce. While the subtle layered flavor profile of the wine would be a perfect balance to all manner of curry dishes.”

And 88 points from the Wine Spectator where Harvey Steiman says “Bright and jazzy, with zesty grapefruit peel notes against the light sweetness of lemon custard character. Riesling, Chenin Blanc and Gewürztraminer. Drink now” – April 15, 2010

What JB Thinks:

Wow…….After reading what they said, I would think they were describing a God rather than a wine. Looking at the label does little to change that perception. Given I am not a big fan of white, this one is a blend of Riesling, Chenin Blanc and Gewurztraminer, I’m initially skeptical. After the first sip of the wine my judgment changed completely (don’t judge a book by its cover). The nose is floral with a nice grapefruit aroma. The flavor is bright with grapefruit and lemon notes that lead to a soft passion fruit flavor. This wine is well balanced, fruity and tart with a nice dry finish. Yum! Given I’ve seen the Autumnus go for $14 it is quite a deal at Trader Joe’s where it can be had for a mere $5.99. That said get it while you can as this one is a hustle buy. With the holidays nearing you may want to grab some for Thanksgiving dinner or stuffing stockings.

JB’s Rating: Buy It (I did!)

Thanks again JB! Who wants to be the next to do a guest post?

2006 BV Coastal Estates Cabernet Sauvignon

This is the second guest post from my friend Paul covering another wine from Costco.

2006 BV Coastal Estates Cabernet SauvignonPrice: $5.99 @ Costco

What They Said:

Per Beaulieu Vineyard (pdf) “Approachable and fruit-forward, there is nothing stuffy about our 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon. Fresh-picked blackberries and spring cherries open the aromas, hemmed by vanilla and toast. This juicy cherry-berry core develops through the mouth, picking up cocoa and subtle spices, gently cupped by soft tannins that hold through the lingering finish.”

What Paul Thinks:

The nose is powerful! This jumps out of the glass from 5 inches away and pulls you right in. Strong aroma of hay and barnyard…not my favorite scents, but definitely give the nose lots of character. Unfortunately the fun ends with the nose. A dastardly combination of tannins and tartness greet the palate…effectively a “piss-off, I’m grumpy” welcome to your glass. The mid-ranges are a slight improvement with some jammy notes, but never release to the full-bodied fruits one would expect from a California Cab.

Rating: Skip It
If anyone is interested in giving this one a try I’m pretty sure you can pick it up at Trader Joe’s as well. Thanks again to Paul for the guest post. Should we pass a motion to make him our official Costco correspondent? If anyone else wants to submit a review for a guest post let me know.

2006 Flor del Montgo Old Vines Garnacha

This is a guest post from my friend Paul. I know many of you have been clamoring for me to review some wines from Costco and/or Cost Plus. Given I rarely shop at either of these I have been looking high and low for contributors to help me cover these areas. Paul is the first to step up to the plate.

2006 Flor del Montgo Old Vines Garnacha*****************************************************
Price: $9.99 @ Costco

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “89 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. According to the Wine Spectator: “This plush red is rich with ripe berry and cherry fruit, accented by leafy and minty notes. Juicy acidity keeps it lively, and there’s just enough tannins for grip. Drink now through 2011.” (11/08)”

What Paul Thinks:

This one is pretty light, but you can search-out hints of fresh herb and tobacco. The body is very well-rounded, with a fruit explosion from the first second on the palate…hitting with blackberry and raspberry waves that have some bite but somehow manage to remain warm and enjoyable. The mid-palate carries a dark chocolate undertone, highlighted with a complex blend of rhubarb, vanilla and oak. The finale has good legs and focuses on cassis, but also has its fair share of tannins for a 2006…very possible this one could age well over the next 2-3 years.

Rating: Buy It
Luckily for me this one won’t leave me lusting for a Costco membership as I can pick it up at K&L Wines where I just added it to my cart. Thanks again to Paul for covering this wine. Everyone else give him a warm welcome and maybe I’ll be able to convince him to do a few more of these. If you are interested in doing the same let me know via emails or in the comments. Who’s next?

Trader Joe’s Wine on Location – Reds with Joe Sears

Trader Joe's Wine on Location - New York City with Joe SearsLast week Joe, who blogs at WineHunterNYC.com, checked in with his thoughts on the white wines he found at Trader Joe’s, This week he is back with the Part II focusing on the reds, here’s what he has to say…

2007 Avalon Cabernet Sauvignon ($9)- Deep garnet/ruby; some dark fruit, graphite, spice and oak on the nose; agreeable tannins with ripe, spicy dark berries (a hint of dried prunes), slight acidity- no harsh tannins on the follow, but still present; a stewed/dry fruit component on the moderate finish.

2005 VINTJS Cabernet Sauvignon ($10)- Medium garnet/ruby; large aromatic nose with spicy fruit and a mineral component (charcoal); ripe, vibrant, spice-laced fruit on the palate, with an integrated mineral component; complexity and depth. A well made wine at this price point.

2007 Hans Lang Rheingau Pinot Noir Edition Maximilian ($7)- Pale, light ruby; spicy/racy nose with fresh strawberries and clove; delicate fruit flavors and the spice component on the palate; well balanced and a well made effort on this level. (Side Notes- Pinot Noir is usually called Spatburgunder in Germany and Austria; Rheingau is my favorite white wine region in Germany- this red rarity is all about lightness and finesse- not a full bodied PN).

2006 Villa Maria Pinot Noir Cellar Selection New Zealand ($18)- Medium red, with some browning; ripe fruit on the nose, with some leather; sublime palate of red fruit, mushroom, leather, and subtle components; moderate finish, but is it worth the $

2006 VINTJS Pinot Noir ($10)- Pale red, with slight browning on the rim; On the nose- stewed fruits, bell pepper, fresh ground black and white pepper, heat from the alcohol, and some cherries; On the palate- lead pencil (graphite) with ripe cherry fruit, slight vanilla notes; balanced with a moderate finish; some ripe, round plum essence, with cherries in the mix. Well-made, structured wine- excellent at this price point (Side Notes- I have personally been back for this about 8 times- a real favorite).

Are any of these favorites of yours? Worst yet, a wine you have dumped down the drain? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

This was eye opening for me. I can’t believe they have the Avalon in NYC, I’ve heard many good things about that one. Also, you can bet I’m going to grab a bottle of the VINTJS Pinot Noir on my next visit. Did you enjoy this article? If so check out more of Joe’s recommendation on WineHunterNYC.com. Thanks again for the series Joe!

Trader Joe’s Wine on Location – New York City with Joe Sears

Trader Joe's Wine on Location - New York City with Joe SearsOne of the biggest obstacles I face in helping many readers is knowing what is on the shelf at your local Trader Joe’s. Given that you can imagine my excitement when Joe Sears reached out to let me know he had recently embarked on a journey through the wine aisles of Trader Joe’s in New York City. Joe, who blogs at Joe Sears on WineHunterNYC.com WineHunterNYC.com, is focused on finding wines that can appeal to those who need to locate affordable wines, but can also reminisce on the great tasting experiences etched in our memories. Given these tenets he sets out to identify those wines that can deliver beyond their price points. Let’s see if he found any at Trader Joe’s, here’s what Joe has to say…
So, as some of you know, I have been on a relentless pursuit of NYC’s most affordable wines. I have finally checked out Trader Joe’s- on 14th Street just East of the termination of Irving Street ( the extension of Lexington Avenue after 21st Street- from 20th Street to 14th Street (going South). But let me stop the map references- this store has major low budget wine buying potential. I initially went in looking for wines under $15/20 per bottle, but was enamored with “$10 and under” offerings I saw as potential, “try one bottle and see” decisions. I dove in and with total experimentation (first time tasting all the way), here are my notes:

2008 D’Aquino Orvieto Classico ($5)- Pale gold, with some green highlights. Delicate nose with some floral, mineral, and perfume notes. Light and delicate on the palate, with pleasant notes continuing. No real complexity here; charming with nothing really standing out (may be over-produced?).

2008 Epicuro Vermentino Lazio ($6)- Light yellow/gold. Aromatic nose, with ripe, mineral tinged fruit and some alcohol/acid burn. Character and flavor components dance on the palate, with a characteristic Old World Vermentino profile- melon and limestone flavors. Great acid balance (crisp). Moderate finish. A winner at this price point.

2008 Chateau des Cleons Muscadet ($7)- Golden color with some green highlights. Crisp, green apple nose with some floral and perfume notes. Crisp and flavorful on the palate (above flavors following) with a flinty aspect as well. Great balance and moderate finish. A winner at this price point. (Jason’s take)

NV Blason de Bourgogne Cremant ($10)- Light yellow/ good effervescence. Faint fruit and mineral tones on the nose. Totally disappears on the palate- no fruit or mineral, just the bubbles with a slight feel of alcohol.

2008 Jean-Luc Colombo CDR Blanc ($10)- Pale gold. Mineral notes (wet slate and limestone) present, with some subtle fruit and floral notes. An initial banana flavor on the palate, (which eventually dissipates), with medium to full acidity. Delicate fruit tones follow with good balance and some minerality. Good entry level Rhone white wine.

2005 Three Knights Chardonnay (Russian River) ($7)- Platinum/ pale gold- some green tones. Very ripe nose, with melon, citrus fruits, and floral notes. Hints of orange peel. Slight limestone (soil) and vanilla (barrel) components. Lively burst on the palate, with everything above showing up- but with great acidic balance. Short finish, but this wine delivers for the price point. Russian River pedigree and great bottle age for a $7 wine.

2008 Caves Perrieres Pouilly Fume ($12)- Entry level Sauv Blanc from the birthplace of this varietal. Straddles both Old and New World components in the best attributes each has to offer (please ask me to expound on this). Pleasant and not complex, but with good character. Moderate finish, and right where it should be for the price point ( i.e. no “bargain, no rip-off”).

Next: The red wines…

Did you enjoy this article? If so check out more of Joe’s recommendation on WineHunterNYC.com. Thanks again Joe!

2003 Fuerza Malbec

This is a guest post from Danny who is a frequent commenter here on the site.  For those that are familiar with his comments you know he often offers in depth reviews of wines.  With that in mind, I asked him if he would be interested in using some of his reviews as posts and he was kind enough to agree.  If anyone else is interested in doing the same let me know in the comments.

Price: $3.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per Viva La Wino “4$ at TJs. First, who can hold and cellar a wine for 5ish years and still sell it for 4$? Seems a bit nuts to me. There’s something a bit lacking about this wine. This wine doesn’t appear to have any new oak. I get a lot of dense, raisiny fruit (prunes), maybe a bit of blackberry, alcohol, and a hint of chocolate. One dimensional, and high in alcohol (15%). On the other hand, this was 4$, and not 15 or 20. D+/C-”

What Danny Thinks:

The Trader Joe’s wine clerk told me he hadn’t tried this, and that it was a one time Trader Joe’s purchase which should sell out fast. I was hopeful, until the clerk said it should be a good example of a Malbec from “Chile”. This muscular wine attacks with both dominating aromas and tastes of uninviting gasoline and sharp rubbing alcohol. A very, very, very modest mix of currant, fig paste and lemon is also overpowered by sour, forward tannins. The finish is aggressive, angular and hot.. As much as I wanted this wine to be good, it is not. If you see this one, save yourself some money and pass on it. I brought my remainder of this wine/bottle back to TJ’s for a refund. I had no desire to exchange it for a different bottle of the same wine

Danny’s Rating: Avoid It

My Thoughts:

Looks like it is 0-2 (0-3 with a late breaking review from idontdrinkwine). Given I am a sucker for Malbec this likely saved me from disappointment. I’ve always wanted TJ’s to have a good Argentine bottle. A little research on this showed that Fuerza is actually made by Laurel Glen though they make no claim to it when discussing their Mendoza offerings. Think I’ll take Danny’s advice on pass on this one. Anybody disagree?

Thanks again Danny! Who wants to be the next to do a guest post?