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. REAL Pinot….Robert Stemmler is a screaming great Pinot Noir and at $20 is a worth every penny. Available at many (but not all) Trader Joe’s.

    Also the Trader Joe’s “RESERVE” Carneros Pinot at $10 is also a super value and worth it!

  2. Hello Jason, Thanks for the comprehensive list. What would be your suggestion from this list of wines to serve with assorted cheeses and crackers at a winter holiday party? Many thanks.

  3. I just recently found the Overlake and was quite surprised for the price. I like the old style Chard(big,bold,buttery,vanilla and this is hard to find at a decent price) I like the Sav.Blanc or Fume’s to be in the old European style of herby,grassy. Too many wines these days taste like a citrus mouthwash…..I like to chew mine…..enough said….will try some of the ones recommeded.

  4. @heather I’ve heard from many a fan of the Rendition Zin though as @sfmickmaster notes it has always been $8.99 here in the bay area. That said it sounds like I need to give this one another shot.

    @Shelly Thanks much for the kind words!

    @Angela I’m not a fan of the Coppola offerings so will likely pass on the Sante offerings. That said thanks for sharing your notes on these on the Picket Fence Pinot post

    @Jerryk I have to try the Robert Stemmler this year. If only the Davis Bynum would reappear I would literally back up the truck!

    @sweetie Tough question as it somewhat depends on the cheese. Generally speaking one of the Pinot’s and the Overlake Chard would likely offer the most versatility.

    @joie Glad to hear you liked the Overlake, hope you find a few others you enjoy on the list…

  5. Run do NOT walk…Get the Henry’s Drive Reserve Shiraz
    Vintage 2006! 90 Points…Full Bodied -unfiltered…Web surfing at about $26+. AT Trader Joe’s $9.99 and a steal at that price. Limited distribution for this wine. MOSTLY CALIFORNIA.

  6. thanks for the reply jason.

    would you ever consider doing a post on pairing trader joe’s cheese selection w/their wines? obviously, the cheese wouldn’t have to be limited to availability at trader joe’s. the topic would be very useful with holiday entertaining this season. (i’m not sure if this is within your expertise area but i have a feeling you’d be a great resource of knowledge!)

    thanks again!

  7. Jason, have you ever been to the Okanagan area or British Columbia Canada? The wines in that area are really amazing and up and coming. Some of the Pinot Noir offerings are outstanding, albeit a little pricey… ranging from around $20 up to $75. My father lives up there and for the past 5 years I have been privy to some outstanding wines from the area.
    Canandian wines are virtually impossible to find here in the US, even in California where almost anything can be found and bought!!

  8. Hi Jason,

    Yeah, the Sante were pretty on the outside and super light on the inside. For the same price I’d rather buy the Concannon Monterey Petit Sirah.

    The Crew didn’t really like the Steelhead S.B.
    It was pretty “Meh” in my opinion. I’d rather drink the St. Luke’s and save a buck.

    The Henry’s Drive was only available for about two days before it was gone. I didn’t have room in my Aussie section, so we missed the boat this time.

  9. @sweetie Not exactly my strong suit but perhaps I’ll try it with guests at a holiday party. As I was setting it up though I would be using the resources @Angela recommends and just giving my take on how the pairings worked…

    @SkiBootGuy Never been to BC but have heard lots about their wine. Look forward to trying them someday soon…

    @Angela Cancel the earlier ask about the Henry’s Drive. Interesting on the Steelhead, perhaps I’ll have buyers remorse on my next bottle, hoping not!

  10. I tried your blog back in September and bought 6-7 of your recommendations (reds and whites)…and must say your wine taste buds are pretty good! I enjoyed every one of them and when I tested them on my father he couldn’t believe most of them were under $8. Thanks!

  11. Jason…are you part owner of picket fence winery? the pinot is Horrible i cant figure out how you rate this wine so high, i’m not even sure i would cook with it, am i missing something?
    on a different note i think your rating of the Epicuro Nero D’ Avola
    is spot on. i drank 2 bottles of the picket fence to make sure it wasn’t just a bad bottle and couldn’t really find any real qualities in the wine, once again what am i missing? i actually poured out the remaining part of the bottle. TJ’s has some great deals this is not one of them.

    • Lauren… what is YOUR DEAL?? That is one of the best Pinots for that price bar non! I gave some bottles to some friends who only drink high end Pinots from Oregon and California and they bought cases because of the value… and the taste!!! I have 4 cases for the holidays, its my house wine right now.
      There are better Pinots out there for sure, but not for $8.99!!!! I have tried all the TJ’s Pinots and the only one that comes close is the Santa Barbara “MISSION LIGHT”‘ 2007. I have the name wrong, but its also $8.99 and the label is Blue background with white writing. BTW, I felt the Epicuro Nero D’ Avola was quite weak and young tasting… every one has different tastes and for sure different PALATES… thats why this blog is so awesome, and for everyone that has a budget of around $10 fr every day wine you cannot beat the ideas and options here.

  12. Everyone has their own palate and is entitled to their own opinion, but let us at least remember our manners and please make civilized comments.

    The Picket Fence Pinot Noir is from the Russian River Valley which can produce lighter style Pinots with red friut flavors.
    It was nice, but for my palate I’d rather spend the extra dollar for the TJ’s Reserve Carneros Pinot Noir. I find it to be more complex with added layers of flavors which is what I like in a Pinot.

    I haven’t had the current vintage of the Nero D’Avola, but the last time we tasted it I remember it being quite fruity and “white wine drinker friendly”.

    Jason is doing a great service with his blog and we all benefit from the information and insight that is shared here. I don’t know of any other place on the Web (besides LJ/FB/MS) where Crew Members from around the country can comment on current offerings and share information with the public. Dude, you rock!

  13. Ditto Angela! Great response and true. Yes folks many new wines are now and will be forthcoming at TJ’s. Some recent and special offerings are very limited and now may no longer be available. I suggest that if you have any interest in some of the “quality-limited” offers that you should always check with your local TJ store almost monthly! Deals come and go as do the th prices, These can range from $7-20 and generally are values that are 2X or more the TJ price. Some are “branded” and some are TJ private labels. Keep a lookout if you are a wineo like me!

  14. Angela what about my comments weren’t civilized? you must be a fellow sf bay area person where free speech started and ended.
    this is the only place where you can speak your mind as long as you agree with gen pop or main consensus because if you speak outside the box you get shut down. i really don’t get where Jason comes up with this review, i went back and got another bottle from different batch and also poured all of the bottle minus a half of a glass down the drain. so Angela if i don’t agree with you i shouldn’t post? i think people should be aware this wine is highly subject to “personal opinion” and should try a bottle before buying multiple cases based on Jason’s review that’s all…Angela lighten up a little!

  15. Lauren, I may have missed something, but I didn’t see where Angela “dissed” you. I for one, however, appreciate the time and expense ($9.95 X 2 plus tax)and effort you spent confirming that the Picket Fence pinot noir, despite it’s #1 ranking by Jason, is not considered favorably by a number of the posters here on on Jason’s blog. Thanks for saving me not only $9.99 + tax but also from a most likely disappointing experience!

  16. @Lauren: All I was saying that let’s all please be polite when we post.

    Concering the Picket Fence, what I meant by “nice” was that the bottle that we tried with the Crew a while back was was alright and a little on the light side. Nothing spectacular but not nasty like the Lazy Bones Cab Franc. I’m sorry that your results varied and I know we’re both glad you didn’t spend $60 from the winery for the sad bottles of unhappiness.

    BTW, have you talked to your local Trader Joe’s about their Return Policy? You might have been able to take at least the second bottle back, tell them you didn’t like it and get something else instead.

    Yes, we all have different palates and experiences when it comes to wine.
    That’s what makes it fun!
    Over the years many of us have disagreed with Jason, but a lot of times his advice can steer people towards value and deliciousness.
    That’s why we keep coming back and using it as a reference for those for us who work for TJ’s.

    And yes, I live in the SF Bay Area and graduated from Berkeley High, class of 1980.
    I work 3 jobs to support my family while my husband studys for his degree and my goal is to become a Wine Professional once my husband gets established. Until then, I’m taking advantage of the opportunity of being on the Wine Team at the Alameda Trader Joe’s and sharing my knowledge with the public, both off and on the Web.

    May everyone have a Safe & Happy New Year!

  17. @Jean and @Jeff Thanks for the kind words!

    @Lauren I am always open to other opinions here and always hate to hear when other people don’t like a wine I recommended. But as you said all wine reviews are nothing but personal opinions. Sorry this one didn’t work for you. Do you have a favorite Pinot you enjoy in the $10 price range? If so would love to hear about it…

    Everyone else, thanks for the comments! Always good to have a little controversy…

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