Trader Joe’s Wines – Top 10 Wine List

2008 Buena Vista Pinot NoirJust joining in? Thanks for stopping by. Please consider adding me to your RSS feed, following along via Facebook or twitter to stay up to date. In the mean time I hope you find something you enjoy…

1. 2008 Buena Vista Pinot Noir ($10) – Angela turned me on to this one via commenting on my previous Top 10 list. Now it is on top. A $10 varietally correct Pinot is a very hard thing to come by in the wine world. I’m about 8 bottles into this one now and still enjoying it…

2. 2006 Lance & Windmill Petite Syrah ($15) – Yes pricey (and perhaps even illegal!) for the top 10 list at $15 but such legit juice (and a confirmed $60 bottle from Quixote Winery). This one is juicy, rich and velvety and ready to pair with your next steak or cigar.

3. 2010 Seismic Sauvignon Blanc ($8) – The list of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc values coming out of Trader Joe’s is legendary. Well add another to the list with the Seismic. Bright, round, juicy and refreshing. Spring is already here which means summer is just around the corner. Time to stock up now!

4. 2009 Linen Red ($9) – Hailing from the Columbia Valley and made by Bergevin Lane this red blend was appealing with rich fruit and nicely grained tannins. It had that little something extra (and avoided being sweet) that made it more enjoyable then similar offerings like the Ménage à Trois. That said I’ve yet to try a full bottle; given that a risky pick in the four slot. I better get on that…

5. 2009 Trentatre Rosso ($6) – A long-time favorite this offering has previously graced the #1 spot in my Top 10 list multiple times. I was nearly flabbergasted when it did so again with its easy drinking, rustic, food friendly style. I think most stores are now on to the 2010 which I’ve yet to try but fingers crossed the drop off is not significant…

6. 2009 Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve ($7) – Another long-time friend this one is from the stellar 2009 vintage in the Rhone. Bright, fruity, spicy and delicious. Should only get better with age to boot. I stashed a case of this one but like the Trentatre I think most stores are now on to the 2010 vintage which given this one’s track record I am sure is still worth the money.

7. 2008 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Carmenere ($8) – It has been a few years since I’ve had this but a recent taste let me know this one is still delivering QPR. I’ve enjoyed many vintages of this wine (often referring to it as “old dependable”) and I remember it for its dark fruit, smoky meat, spice and herbal notes; always on top of a nice structure. Hard to go wrong at $8…

8. 2010 Dr. Beckermann Piesporter Michelsberg Riesling Spatlese ($5) – Another long-time favorite this is the go to wine in my house with Asian food. Light (9%abv), easy, and off dry. Just a touch sweet, with a slight mineral acidity to keep the finish fresh and pleasing. Could work well as an aperitif (and for many a non wine drinker) too…

9. 2010 Rabbit Ridge Allure de Robles ($5) – I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again; I think Erich Russell, the founder at Rabbit Ridge, makes the most honest $5 bottle of wine you are likely to find. Lucky for us this 2010 is still out on the shelves. Juicy with lush, peppery cherry fruit this one is big and spicy. As mentioned previously get it while you can as the 2011 vintage was nearly wiped out by hail. I grabbed a few more yesterday.

10. 2010 Trader Joes Petit Reserve Refosco ($7) – Yip Refosco. It was new to me and I’m guessing it is new to you. Well this is a bit of a cheat (with 25% Merlot) but… Ripe, smooth and balanced by a nice earth and spice leading to rustic finish. A food friendly offering that makes me want to explore this grape further…

And a few wild cards (it seems stock is already limited on these…)
2010 Grifone Primitivo ($4) – A great little cooking wine and maybe even more…if you can find it.
2006 Thornwood Cabernet Sauvignon ($10) – Another I’ve yet to try a bottle of but nice fruit with dusty tannins. Worth checking out if you can…

And for the special selections if looking for bubbly or dessert…
Bubbly: NV Zonin Prosecco Brut ($6)
Dessert: NV Porto Morgado Ruby Port ($7)

I do realize selection is varied from store to store and being in Northern California I see a fair share of wines that don’t make it much further. If you aren’t finding these take a look at my list of the Top 10 “Classic” wines which should (hopefully) be available at your local Trader Joe’s. Otherwise I look forward to hearing your thoughts on these or any that I may be missing via the comments below…

This list was last updated on March 28, 2012. To check out the Trader Joe’s Top 10 archives click here.

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228 thoughts on “Trader Joe’s Wines – Top 10 Wine List

  1. Jason: Would you be willing to do a similar review of some of the wines that are part of the BevMo 5 cent sale? I always get excited when I see the sale but then don’t recognize many of the wines….

    Thanks! -Carmen

  2. @joshiemac haven’t tried it yet, let me know if you do

    @prof I’m not a huge fan of the BevMo 5 cent sale because I usually end up disappointed. That said, I’ve heard the Montgras & Roshambo look like the two biggest values in the lot. I’ll see if I can get some more info for you…

    • Ah! Perfect! I had already picked up the Rezonja and the Roshambo Zin, so I will check out some of the others. Mille Grazie.

  3. Hey Jason, this top ten list is fantastic. But what about Charles Shaw, for a third of the price of some of these wines it is actually quite good. I know that it has fared well in some blind tasting tests. I found you through Twitter and am now following you, we are @toptentopten.
    You can post this to our site http://www.toptentopten.com/ and link back to your site. We are trying to create a directory for top ten lists where people can find your site. The coolest feature is you can let other people vote on the rankings of your list.

  4. Hi — I’ve enjoyed your recommendations. If you haven’t tried Pancake Cellars Big Day White, I recommend it. It’s a decent, refreshing white for only around $5.

  5. @Vince Haven’t touched the Charles Shaw in quite a while and really don’t have the urge. @rjswineblog recently reviewed all the offerings and followed that up with a joint blind tasting with @robertdwyer. Check them out if you want to see where the Two Buck Chuck stacked up!

    @Camille You know, I really like the Honeymoon Viognier as well. Was surprised that I had not posted a review of that one. It would be on the “Just Missed” list at worst…

    @KB Thanks for the kind words. I have tried the Pancake Cellars and found it enjoyable and versatile. Not sure if Trader Joe’s still has this one in stock or not

  6. Sorry I missed your post on Pancake Cellars. I agree with your assessment. I also drink the Synergy. I think they’re both good summer mid-week wines. Not amazing, but they fill a niche. I think the Bear’s Lair Viognier fits that bill as well. Thanks again!

  7. Good call on a lot of these! I can’t believe the Epicuro Aglianico only made the “just missed” field, though… at $5, for that depth and complexity, it’s easily my best-value TJ import.

    Another winner in my book is the ’04 Estola red from La Mancha. Extremely dependable when you want a lighter-bodied red with some spice and acidity.

    I agree with you about the Perrin. The Bogle P.S. is solid for sure, but I actually prefer the soft opulence of the Stonehedge. And I’m glad the Castle Rock Mendocino is #1. Is the ’07 finally drinking well? I miss the ’06, but it seems to be totally gone.

    (I assume you didn’t include the Chariot Gypsy because it’s just too hard to find, and you didn’t want to tease your readers?)

  8. Thanks so much for putting this list together! I hope you’ll continue with the tradition. I took your list into TJ’s today and it so nice to not have to shop ‘blindly’.

    Unfortunately, the local TJ’s here in Foster City only seemed to carry 5 from the list. They did have the Dao, but like Joshie mentioned above, they only have the ’06.

    Keep it up!! :)

  9. @KB I’ll give that Bear’s Lair (which is part of the Two Buck Chuck/Bronco Wine Co family) Viognier a try.

    @Jesse Porter Don’t get me wrong I am a big fan of the Aglianico but as of late the Tommolo (#5 above) has been my house Italian of choice. As for the Estola I haven’t had that one but I added it to the shopping list. Likewise the Stonehedge. On the ’07 Castle Rock Mendocino, I obviously find it to be drinking well. Much better than the ’06 IMHO. Lastly on the Gypsy, just haven’t updated the list of late… Just added that to my to-do list.

    @Mike My pleasure and thanks for the kind words. I intend to keep this tradition alive and well. Surprised you were only able to find 5 given I am in NorCal as well. Another indication that the list may be in a need of an update… As for the ’06 Dao I have yet to try it, still have a few left of the ’05. Anyone out there tried it yet?

  10. Hi Jason,

    The Dao ’06, according to the Crew at Rockridge just isn’t as good as the ’05, which is no longer available.
    Apparently the ’06 Douro has swapped places with the Dao in the taste department, but I haven’t tried them myself.

    Overlake, Pancake Cellars & Wine Party are gone. BTW, each store has access to all the wines in their region’s Order Guide, but most don’t have space to carry every wine. It really depends on what sells in your neighborhood.

    Bear’s Lair Viognier is nice, but heavy on the Papaya.
    I’ve had all of our Viogniers now, and I gotta say I like the Honey Moon the best of what we carry. Kathy’s Cuvee (Rosenblum) isn’t not, but definitely drinkable. I also had the Chateau St. Michelle Riesling and thought it was lovely, whereas the JW Morris was horrid and the Two Vines was just a little too sweet and full-bodied for my taste.

  11. @Angela Thanks for the updates, speaking of updates this list needs one. I’ll try to get to that over the weekend. BTW, I dig the Honey Moon Viognier and the Chateau Ste. Michelle (#8 above) too.

  12. unfortunately, none of these wines were available at my local trader joe’s (brand new in seattle) so we’re happily anticipating your next list!

  13. My husband and I tried the 2006 Callabriga Douro and LOVED it!! It is good with or without food. I’m looking to buy a case.

  14. Hiya,

    It looks like the Castle Rock Mendocino County Pinot Noir might be close to the end of its current availability as we’ve tried to order it for the last several nights and it didn’t come in.

  15. @mike definitely due for an update, stay tuned… hopefully this week.

    @Monica Thought the Douro was nice but you certainly appeared to like it more than I did, perhaps I’ll give it another go…

    @Angela Thanks for the heads up, going to head out after work and grab stock up…

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