2009 VINTJS Pinot Noir

2009 VINTJS Pinot NoirPrice: $8.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per Wine by Joe (on the 2008 which goes for $19 on the winery site) “Listen to the fine and enticing “snap-crack” of the seal as you twist it off. Put the Band-Aids back in the medicine cabinet… this aint no cork sealed wine. This wine slips into your mouth with gorgeous rich blackberry aromas with a touch of leather, too. The flavors mirror the aromas with a soft and velvety mouthfeel which wraps around your tongue delivering the impression of sweetness from the soft ripe tannins. I know what you are thinking… How can Joe deliver such a good Oregon Pinot Noir for the money you are asking!!?? Yes, I know, you want to drink more…”

What I Think:

I found this Willamette offering from the same maker as the recently reviewed Pinot Gris and, as Gary Vee would say, I decided to give it a whirl. How did it go?

Faint in color at the core and almost brown on the edges this one is light from the get go. Bright on the nose this one starts nicely showing racy acidity which leads to tart cranberry and orange rind flavors before giving way to a slightly harsh finish. That’s the best that can be said. On the flip side I might look at this one as thin, sour and under ripe. Whereas the Pinot Gris was well made I don’t get that sense here as it seems disjointed at times. Not enough Jekyll & too much Hyde for me. I won’t be buying this one again. Anyone have a recent favorite Pinot favorite in this price range to share?

Rating: Skip It

2009 VINTJS Pinot Gris

2009 VINTJS Pinot GrisPrice: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer “VINTJS Willamette Valley Pinot Gris, from Oregon’s most renowned growing region, is a silky & vibrant wine, more full-bodied and lush than its cousin, Pinot Grigio. The Willamette Valley’s long, cool growing season challenges the grapes to ripen, which results in much more complexity of flavor and body than often found in wines from warmer regions. Bright flavors of pineapple, green apple & pear make this a good partner to a salad of Organic Baby Lettuce topped with our Goat Cheese Medallions. Our price of $5.99 makes this a great partner to your sense of frugality, too.”

What I Think:

Another in the series of VINTJS offerings I found this on page 8 of my most recent Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer. I really wanted to like this one as it has been a while since I enjoyed a Pinot Gris. How did this one work out? Straw hued with a slight spritz on the pour (not the palate though) and a nose showing tart citrus, mineral and rock aromas. Green apples greet you on the palate before a mineral backbone kicks in leading to a crisp finish. Enough acid but I prefer a bit more snap (and truth be told a bit more fruit as well). This wine is well made but not a standout. You get what you pay for; a simple, solid sipper. I bought two bottles initially but don’t see this one making it into my cart again. That said guessing some might like this more than I do. If you are a Pinot Gris fan feel free to give this one a try.

Rating: 12th Bottle

2006 VINTJS Malbec

Price: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

2006 VINTJS MalbecPer the bottle “hails from the prime growing regions of Alexander Valley in Sonoma County. Known for rich, fleshy wines, this Malbec delivers with dark berry, licorice and integrated tannins.”

What I Think:

The bottle tells you this one is made by Mosaic Winery. When visiting their site you are quickly redirected to deLorimier Winery, looks like it was a long term partnership that they folded into a single label at some point. I can’t find many references to Mosaic but what I do see is that deLorimier Winery released a 2006 Alexander Malbec of their own in September 2009. Looking at pricing on their previous vintages the typical offering would be in the $25 range. Given I can’t find a word about this one online my assumption is that this is the estate juice and that they sold the whole lot to TJ’s, lucky us!

Juicy up front, though this fades as the wine breathes, with an earthy backbone this one dries out towards the mid of the palate where dusted chocolate flavors emerge leading to smooth finish loaded with chewy tannins and barrel spices with just a bit of heat/toastiness. This one doesn’t say Malbec to me (Argentina is my ballast) but it does say nice, easy drinking wine. Per JB, each store only got six cases so make sure to get some while the getting is good. Guessing those outside of CA are out of luck on this one but let me know if you happen to see it!

Rating: Buy It

2008 VINTJS Syrah

2008 VINTJS SyrahPrice: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer “VINTJS Central Coast Syrah is a blend of Paso Robles (warm climate) and Santa Barbara (cool climate) grapes, aged for nine months in neutral French barrels. From the cool climate we get spice, acidity and balance, while the warm climate contributes soft, round, lush fruit. Together, they create a stellar Syrah in the classic Rhône style, redolent of black cherry and pepper.”

What I Think:

This is the 2nd wine I’ve reviewed in the latest from the VINTJS series. As mentioned when discussing the Chardonnay I learned while reading the Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer that these wines were made by Bob Lindquist of Qupe. I’ve had their Qupe Syrah offering and was a fan so I was anxiously awaiting giving this one a try.

With steak on the table this was an easy choice and it delivered. The nose displayed herb notes and dried cherries. The palate showed terrific balance and nice acidity. Fruit is present but stays in the background; this one is not a fruit bomb by any means. The end is loaded with white pepper and under ripe berry flavors that lead to a slight pucker on the finish. It shows a bit of elegance that leads me to believe this one has some room to grow with aging. So that leaves one question, is this a side project with its own juice? Or did they decide to bottle a little bit less of the ’08 Syrah and throw the VINTJS label on the remainder. Perhaps I’ll email Bob and see what he has to say. Or maybe I’ll do a bottle comparison. This one was marked “8265 A 35” on the bottom. Be interesting to see if the same can be found on the Qupe. Regardless, this one is worth seeking out. I’ll be grabbing more…

Rating: Buy It

2008 VINTJS Chardonnay

Price: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

2008 VINTJS ChardonnayPer Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer “VINTJS Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay is a bright, crisp Chardonnay fermented in French oak casks. A touch of rich, vivid tropical fruit makes this wine a good partner to pasta with cream sauce or young cheeses like our Baby Swiss.”

What I Think:

I mentioned in my post about the Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer that the new VINTJS offerings weren’t on my shopping list until I realized they were made by Bob Lindquist of Au Bon Climat and Qupe. So that solved the first problem. The second? Drumroll… It’s the grape. Many times over I have precluded my Chardonnay posts by reminding everyone that I am not a fan of the varietal. Once again I feel compelled to do so but won’t go deeper, if interested in more you can find the latest on my story here. When I open this one I immediately think that is the typical $20 California Chardonnay that everyone knows and loves, except for me apparently. Big oak jumps out on the nose. Once it blows off some nice apple and nectarine notes intermingle themselves. On the palate you are greeted with forward fruit, “bright” from the description above rings true. The mid-palate becomes creamy and this lasts through the end where it is met with a touch of acidity that adds crispness and creates a lasting finish that lingers on and on. Many people pay big $$ for this flavor profile. Gary Vee calls it “buttered popcorn Chard”. If that sounds like it is up your alley grab a bottle or two, guessing this could be a winner for you. As for me, my hunt for a Chard I agree with continues. That said, I’m looking forward to trying the Syrah.

Rating: 12th Bottle

2008 VINTJS Sauvignon Blanc

Price: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

2008 VINTJS Sauvignon BlancPer Trader Joe’s Ten For The Tasting (pdf) “Attention grabbing, but not the kind of slap-you-in-the-face of a New Zealand vintage, our 2008 VINTJS Sauvignon Blanc boasts focused intensity and rounded floral characteristics. Produced by a famed, family-owned, sustainably-farmed winery in Rutherford, this is a crisp, mouthwatering blend of 78% Sauvignon Blanc and 22% Sémillon. It delivers zesty aromas and flavors of lemon, ruby red grapefruit, guava and juicy lime. Deliciously smooth in the mouth, the finish is long and cleansing.”

What I Think:

As mentioned yesterday I found this one via the Trader Joe’s Ten For The Tasting. Why did it stand out? As I said there; after watching many of my fellow bloggers enjoy the St. Supery as part of Twitter Taste Live Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley was top of mind. Couple that with this one being a blend of Sauvignon Blanc (78%) and Semillion (22%), a combination I feel in love with years back in New Zealand on my honeymoon, and this one was an easy choice.

That’s all good and dandy but what about what was in the bottle. This one is not for those looking for the grassy New Zealand style and is worlds different than my mainstay CA Sauvignon Blanc, the Geyser Peak. On the nose your greeted with nice, ripe lime and guava notes. It starts with a bit of acid navigating from crisper, slightly tart fruits at the front of the palate to ripe tropical fruits towards the end. It finishes fuller in body, a hint sweet and dripping with candied nectarines. Not what I was expecting from a Sauvignon Blanc but I was pleased nonetheless. Think I may grab another.

Rating: 12th Bottle