2009 Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve

This wine is the equivalent of a long time friend. We can not talk for ages but once we do we can pick up right where we left off. Made by the Perrin brothers, the owners of the famed Chateau de Beaucastel in Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the Southern Rhone (and involved more locally with Tablas Creek) this has long been on of my go to wines. That said this was my first experience with the 2009, what did I find?

Price: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Vineyard Brands

What They Said:

2009 Perrin Cotes du Rhone ReservePer wine.com “A sensational bargain, the 2009 Perrin et Fils Cotes du Rhone Reserve red is composed of 60% Grenache (from the estate vineyards at Prebois), 20% Syrah (from the estate vineyards in Vinsobres), and 20% Mourvedre. It offers lots of black cherry fruit, underbrush, licorice, pepper, and spice notes in a medium-bodied, richly fruity style with no hard edges. Their 2008 was a surprisingly good effort, but the 2009 is slightly riper and bigger.” 89pts, The Wine Advocate

What I Think:

(13.5%) 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 20% Mourvedre – A classic Rhone blend this is a tried and true value wine. Like the CdP efforts this one is predominately Grenache and starts ripe and juicy with pomegranate, cherry, raspberry and spiced red licorice on the palate. From there the acidity dries turning this one meaty, earthy and rustic before a short peppery finish. That said overall this one is bright, fruity, spicy and delicious. Should only get better with age to boot…

Wine Geek Notes: 87pts Wine Spectator, 89 pts Wine Advocate, 75,000 cases made

Rating: Buy It (I’m leaning towards grabbing 6+ bottles for some short term cellaring)

2010 Roccalta Sangiovese

2010 Roccalta SangiovesePrice: $3.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer “This is a bring-the-family-together bottle. Since the 1800s, the Castellani family has been producing high quality, Italian wines that have become well regarded around the world. With deep roots in antique viticulture and an open, exploratory spirit, the family continues to craft new, exciting wines. Our family has forged strong ties with the Castellanis, and that allows us to bring your families their tremendous wines for prices that feel like, well, family discounts. Take our $3.99 Roccalta Sangiovese. Crafted from Sangiovese grapes from Puglia, the juice is fermented in stainless steel. It’s a straightforward, easy-drinking wine full of spices and flavors of plum and dark cherry that will appeal broadly. To family!”

What I Think:

(13%) Starts soft and smooth with clean cherry flavors showing nice depth. Dried herbs and spice along with a nice acidity on the mid-palate lead to a slight metallic tinge on the finish which is the only perceptible fault here (but blows off some the longer the bottle is open). Too bad they couldn’t have found a big wood cask (or cement) for this puppy as we could have had a true gem. That said still an easy candidate to be the base for all of my sauces moving forward (while sneaking more than a few sips on the side). I had mine out when making chicken cacciatore and would be happy to do so again. Simple and pleasing and for $4 that is more than you can really expect…

Rating: Buy It (to drink while you cook…)

2010 Dr. Beckermann Piesporter Michelsberg Riesling

A long a favorite I was hoping this one could follow in the footsteps of previous vintages like the 2005 and 2006. That said it used to be Spätlese now just Qualitätswein. Does it matter?

Price: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

2010 Dr. Beckermann Piesporter Michelsberg Riesling Spatlesenothing on the bottle or the web. Any of my Trader Joe’s insiders out there have the scoop on this one?

What I Think:

(9%) Honeyed, pollinated, floral nose. Light spritz, effervescent. Some surprising weight (yet still light and easy) on the palate with a crisp lemon citrus edge over a green apple core. This one is off dry, just a touch sweet, with a slight mineral acidity to keep the finish fresh and pleasing. A simple, straightforward quaffer this one would work well as an aperitif.

Rating: Buy It

2010 Quinson Fils Rose

Long a fan of rosé from Provence not only was I curious but just had to see what this one could deliver for a five spot…

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

What They Said:

2010 Quinson Fils RoseHmmm… Not a word to be found. Guess you’ll just have to trust me…

What I Think:

(12.5%) Nice pale salmon pink color (not dyed). Medium bodied, pleasant Grenache like strawberry and watermelon fruit. Spiced minerality. Dry, crisp and pleasing. Perhaps a bit faint or simple on the back of the palate but no flaws here. Still delivers for the price point despite the strange bottle. If you are looking for a rose this is as good as it is going to get for $5 (unless you can grab the 2009 Domaine Sainte Leocadie Minervois Rosé at K&L Wines).

Rating: Buy It (if you’re a rosé fan…)

2010 Honey Bunch Cellars Chardonnay

This one is loosely affiliated with Grove Street Winery or at least it was licensed under there permit. Here nor there I’ve had this as well as their current red offering and both seem like solid, workman type like wines which given the price is not a bad thing. Expect to see this as my token, crowd-pleaser Chardonnay near the tail end of my next Trader Joe’s Wines Top 10 Wine List (which I intend to publish this Thursday)…

2010 Honey Bunch Cellars ChardonnayPrice: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the bottle “We’ve taken to calling this refreshing, layered Chardonnay summer in a glass. Taking the sweetest advantage of California fruit this captivating California Chard offers hints of sunny lemon and subtle spice, followed by a smooth vanilla-cream finish and lingering undertones of sweet honey. You can’t help yourself!”

What I Think:

(12.5%) North Coast always suckers me in. That said I am not a Chard fan but this one almost does it for me which means at $6 this might be worth checking out. Subdued honey, floral nose. When chilled the palate is crisp with a pronounced vanilla creaminess. As it warms spicy, floral notes emerges first followed by toasted oak. From there baked apple takes center stage followed by a bit of citrus on a crisp finish. Simple and pleasant.

Rating: 12th Bottle

2010 Found Object Gewurztraminer

This one comes courtesy Castoro Cellars who have long been providing quality wines to the Trader Joes’s shelves but always been short on sharing information from whence they came. That said if I thought the Hungry Hollow Gewurztraminer was a deal at $10 this one is certainly worthy of your consideration at half the price. Expect to see this near the top of my next Trader Joe’s Wines Top 10 Wine List (which I intend to publish this Thursday)…

Price: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

2010 Found Object GewurztraminerPer the bottle “Context, it can change everything. Consider, for a moment, a wine among a crowd – yet not if the crowd. What could be taken for granted (grape juice) becomes special when repurposed into something thought provoking.

Consider this Gewürztraminer worthy of your consideration”

What I Think:

(13.3%) Almost clear straw in color, big forward, fruity nose. Peaches, lychee, a bit sweet on the backbone making it off dry with a floral, white pepper spiced finish. Simple, clean and straightforward. No flaws to report and varietally correct to boot. This is certainly a wine I want to have around my house. If you are a fan of Gewurzt this one is worth stocking up on. If not certainly consider giving it a try.

Wine Geek Notes: Surprisingly $2 less than the Viognier (yet to try) from the same label.

Rating: Buy It

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

2011 Ferngreen Sauvignon Blanc

As part of my quasi-investigative Trader Joe’s Thursday series I delved back into the New Zealand section, where I’ve always had much success, to see what I might find. The beloved King Shag is no more so I was curious as to see whether this one (which is by the way my very first wine from the 2011 vintage) might be an apt replacement and a potential candidate for the Holiday 2011 Trader Joe’s Top 10 Wine List. Word on the street on is that it might be an early favorite for a midrange spot. Want to hear more? Read on my friends…

2011 Ferngreen Sauvignon BlancPrice: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Latitude Wines

What They Said:

Per the bottle “Marlborough is one of the regions of New Zealand, located in the northeast of the South Island, known for its dry climate, the pictueresque Marlborough Sounds, and sauvignon blanc wine. Between two mountainous areas in the long straight valley of the Wairau River. This broadens to wide plains at the eastern end, in the centre of which stands Bleinheim. This region has fertile soil and temperate weather, and as such has become a centre of the New Zealand wine industry.”

What I Think:

(13%) This one is a fairly spot on New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with a big, bright mouthfeel showing loads of ripe gooseberry, guava and passion fruit flavors. A lemon, citrus acidity emerges on the mid-palate and drives through to a dry, lip smacking finish. Perhaps a bit too ripe for my taste but no doubt a good value for those fans of this style.

Rating: Buy It

2008 Green Barn Red Field Blend

Ever since I fell in love with a Ridge York Creek Zinfandel long ago I’ve been a sucker for field blends (which this one is). For those that might not new what this indicates it means that the grapes are grown intermixed in the vineyard. There isn’t a row of Zinfandel, a row of Syrah etc. but rather everything is grown side by side. As compared to the vast majority of wines which are grown individually, barreled individually and then in something akin to a science lab test tube tasting bottled together once the magic ratios are identified. But anyhow onto the wine…

2008 Green Barn Red Field BlendPrice: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per Trader Joe’s “Wines made with organically grown grapes have come a long way. We’ve been working with one of the pioneers of this burgeoning segment of the winemaking industry for years, and the wines he produces seem to get better as his efforts at sustainability and biodynamic farming grow even deeper roots (pun intended). We’ve recently partnered with this talented craftsman to create Green Barn Wines, exclusive to Trader Joe’s.

Green Barn Wines are made with organically grown grapes from Mendocino County, north of Sonoma, along the rugged northern California coast. Green Barn Red Wine is a blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, Grenache and Petite Sirah. It’s juicy in the mouth, with black cherry flavors and a bit of orange peel on the finish, with soft tannins.”

What I Think:

(14.5%) 51% Zinfandel, 39% Syrah, 6% Grenache, and 4% Petit Sirah – Nice full nose. On entry this is rich and smooth with juicy, slightly sweet, fruits of blackberry and cherry. These are joined by creamy tannins and a moderate acidity on the mid-palate. From there it turns tart before drying out on dusty, white pepper finish that turns a touch bitter before lingering on. A big wine, but not over the top, to pair with a big meal. If you don’t mind the tart fruit and flash of bitterness perhaps serve it with a nice beef chili on a cold evening…

Rating: 12th Bottle <- While I can imagine buying this one again I’m not likely to do so…