Trader Joe’s and Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Trader Joe's and Chateauneuf-du-PapeEvery time I go to Trader Joe’s I see this, that or the other new mostly generic looking label staring back at me from the shelves promising to deliver expensive wines (e.g. Barolo, Amarone, …) at a fraction of the cost. My initial inclination is always to give it a try and hope for the best but I have been disappointed too may times to succumb to that reaction. As my parents always told me if it sounds too good to be true chances are it is. Nonetheless each time I head down the wine aisle that temptation once again strikes and I have to remind myself to be strong. Such is the case with this Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

Now it turns out this is not a generic label. The 2008 is available for $20. I can find mentions of the 2005, 2006 and even a mention of the 1999 vintage. Here’s what Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer had to say about the 2009:

    Châteauneuf-du-Pape – Val De La Pierre:This red Rhône blend holds your palate rapt. What do you expect from a bottle that bears the emblem of the Holy See? Named for “the Pope’s new castle,” Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a landmark wine region in the southern Rhône that burgeoned under the cultivation of the 14th Century Avignon Popes. It produces legendary wines. Present vintage included. A perfect storm of climactic conditions and opportune veraison (onset of ripening) yielded grapes with concentrated acidity and balanced structure. This blend of 60% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 7.5% Mourvèdre and 7.5% Cinsault presents sweet plum with notes of white pepper and black tea. It’s roll-your-tongue-over-your-teeth juicy. Ready to drink now, it also will age well; so, pour it with your turkey, present it to your friends or cellar it—at our price of $9.99, you can do it all for less than you might find a bottle elsewhere.

Perhaps a telling tale that they lead with the Châteauneuf-du-Pape designation before mentioning the producer, no? So what did others have to say? Jeff over at Viva la Wino faintly praised (vs. the ’08) but mostly panned it. joshiemac mentioned it wasn’t half bad once spun through the Vinturi. But based on what I have heard to date my perspective remains unchanged. These wines are expensive for a reason and while you don’t have to pay top dollar you are going to have to open your wallet a bit further than normal to acquire a quality product. If I can’t do that I’d rather spend my $10, $15 or $20 on a known commodity that I am sure I will enjoy. How about you? Have you bought it? If so what did you think? Care to try and change my mind?

* photo courtesy of Viva la Wino!