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. I have been a fan of this website for sometime. Nice work Jason. You rock. What’s great about this website is that users can inform others about potential good QPR wines at tj’s. As so many people have mentioned, wine preferences are very subjective. For example, I really thought the Picket Fence was a bad wine. On the other hand, my ex-girlfriend tried it and she really liked it. She has good taste in wine. So, I tried another bottle, and I hated it again.

    My personal opinion of tj wines is that almost all are poor values under $12. However, due to the recession that will last for quite some time, expect tj’s to continue to offer wines from bankrupt wineries and closeouts. The real bargains are wines tj’s prices at $12.99 and above. For example, at $12.99, the Grand Reserve Chardonnay from Chalk Hill was a steal. The Howell Mountain Cab and Beatty Ranch Zin, both for $14.99, were fantastic. The Robert Stemmler Nugent VY PN was incredible for $19.99. I tried the 2007 Carneros from RS and thought it was very robust. If you like a robust PN, this is for you. In my opinion, nowhere as close to the refinement of the Nugent VY. Finally, the $14.99 Lorca PN from Gary’s VY was the best wine I ever bought from tj’s. Unfortunately, I only have one left.

    Big shout out to Angela Carlson. You are such an asset to this website with your up-to-date information!

  2. @bf: You’re very welcome!
    Hey, don’t miss the “TJ’s Reserve” labels at the $9.99 price point. Fairly consistant in the quality department, especially the TJ’s Reserve Carneros Pinot Noir, which is now sadly gone.
    Not the Total Rock Stars of the “branded” labels, but pretty darn delicious. The Mendocino Barbera was yummy after a good bit of air and I’d like to try the Alexander Valley Cabernet before it disappears. Hoping for more opportunities to taste and share notes in the coming year. Cheers!

  3. I wish we got the Mendocino Barbera in So Cal Orange County. I love Barbera Wine. I have to say that our TJ’s labels are very good for the price and can be be evenly matched to any 20+ wines in the same category. A lot of customers think when I recommend our TJ’s labels, that I’m just trying to push our brand. This is not true in many ways. I would say that 85% of the time our labels are just as good as most of the name brands sense many of these brands are making the wine for us. For example, the VINTJS Chardonnay we have right now is made by Rodney Strong and very comparable the the bottle of Rodney Strong that we carry. For 4 bucks cheaper and very good I would go with our brand.

  4. Price has little to do with wine quality; so all of you who reject a wine because of its low price “know the price of everything and the value of nothing”. Sorry, but all this pretentious talk really gets up my nose. ALL wine tastings should be done blind and absent of price tags and would you ever be surprised!!!

  5. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion when it comes to wine & value.
    It isn’t necessarily pretentious, it’s just the experiences they’ve had that drives their opinion.

    Unfortunately these days its hard not to talk about price, but ultimately to comes down to the taste of the wine.
    I personally love finding great deals with great flavor and try to point y’all in their direction.

    BTW, I’ve done blind tastings in the past and the Crew at the time liked several of the cheaper, sweeter wines over more expensive options. It’s a fun game and I’ll see if I can’t fit a few more in this year. However, when I do Tastings at work, I’m the only one who knows all the price points while the Crew is sampling the wines. My current Crew is more focused on flavor than brand name or price point.

    Some folks like friut bombs, I enjoy wines with more depth and layers of flavor regardless of the price point.
    These differences are what makes the world of wine fascinating and fun.

    Here’s to an excellent 2011. Skoll!

  6. Picket Fence was the best Pinot Noir that I’ve tasted in a very long time—especially for the price. I like the spice, fruit, and balance. Mostly, I appreciated the absence of the medicine-like quality of pinots of the high-production and discounted types. I paid much more at Raleys for the Picket Fence, so tomorrow I’m headed to Trader Joe’s to clean off their shelf.

  7. Another nice PN is another VINTJ/s label from Willamette Valley, Oregon. $ 8.99. smooth, a bit lighter than Russian River or Carneros Pinots, but very drinkable with good balance and nice finish.

    We loved Picket Fence, and given the vintage it was an exceptional value.

    Happy Swilling Everyone!

  8. just thought of another new wine called Reves (french word for dream) but it is a Spanish Wine – Priorat Region. Carignan, Garnacha and Syrah. $8.99. Smooth, rich and soft tannins. I think this was in the recent Flyer. Excellent for the price.

  9. I bought a Moscato back in November with the most beautiful bottle imaginable. I believe this was a port wine from Italy, but I don’t recall the name. Will you be bringing this wine back to the shelves? If so, please inform me with the name of the wine. Sweet, smooth and great with a dessert!

    • I think the name of the wine you bought was Villa Alena Moscato-a sweet white wine from Italy. Like you, I thought this was the best Moscato I’ve tasted, but the salesman in the store told me they don’t know when they will get more.

    • Just bought a bottle of this wine at the TJ’s in Maple Grove, MN and am anxiously awaiting the opportunity to open it….. after reading your review I think that makes tonight the occasion I was waiting for!

  10. Pingback: 14 Ways to Drink Well on a Budget | Enobytes Wine Online

  11. We have been buying Villa Alena Moscato Sweet White Wine from TJs for several months. It is one of the very few wines I have ever enjoyed. Since TJ’s is not currently stocking it, does anyone know where it can be found?


  12. To those looking for Villa Alena, it is exclusive to TJ’s. While you are waiting for it to come back in stock, I suggest checking if your store carries Sara Bee. It’s a very similar moscato- very low alcohol, lightly sparkling, from Italy, $1 more.

  13. Thank you for the feedback on Villa Alena. I just got a response from TJ’s corporate office. They are planning to stock it once it is available.

  14. @Dauree: “The Bulletin” is TJ’s internal newsletter that gives us updates on new products, product status, etc.
    The Culinary Compendium (our next flyer)hits Monday and will be featuring Riesling (yeah!) and Syrah.

  15. :-) Heads up folks! A very limited supply of Hogue Genesis 2007 Meritage will become available this week in mostly California Stores. ROSEVILLE, CA will have this MONDAY 3-21. 89 Points Wine & Spirits and rated a “best buy”. (Agreed)! READY $7.99!! Average SRP about $15-16.
    Merlot/Cab Sav/Malbec/Cab Franc Meritage blend!

  16. Just so you know, I should start by saying I am not a wine sophisticate. I go by my palate and taste alone. That being said, I tried the much ballyhoed TJ’s Reserve Pinot Noir.

    I am just not a big Pinot fan, (I’ve heard it is the cadillac of reds) but to me it is a simple wine and I like something I think is a little more robust and complex. It just doesn’t satisfy me. I’m sure this is a lovely wine for Pinot lovers, but I like TJ’s Reserve Cabernet better.

  17. I love Pinot Noir, and my Trader’s in St. Paul, Minnesota always has Castle Rock Mendocino County Pinot Noir in stock for ten bucks, which is 2 bucks less than the cheapest price I can find elsewhere. It is a very good Pinot for that price. Make sure you get Mendocino County, as Castle Rock bottles several different kinds of Pinot under their label.

  18. Hey all,

    I just (long overdue) updated the Top 10 list. I’ll write-up a post on it tomorrow but wanted you all to be the first to know. Spread the word and hope this finds everyone well.


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