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. Very nice Top 10 selections, well balanced with something for every palate and not a loser among them. Great job! Now if TJ only sold a bargain Amador County Zin…..

    • Love me some Sobon. Not sure where you are located but you should check out there Vicious Wines. The Zin is available for ~$9. Total Wines is the only one I know that carries it which is a bummer as we don”t have them here in the Northern California Bay Area..

  2. Too bad…..for both of us. I just spent an hour typing a reply to your “Top 10″ list and it turns out everything was lost because I apparently shouldn’t have entered the “Captcha code” before I began typing…Had “insider’s info”, agree/disagree points, and input/observations from Washington State. Since I type with one finger (I have all ten; just don’t use the “extras”), I guess I took too long. Nice blog…My friend just pointed me to your blog as I’m always giving input at a store level to folks within my immediate proximity as well as rather distant locales. He keeps goading me to create a blog which I’ve neither the time nor inclination to do. I work at a TJ’s on weekends to get out of the house and do all the ordering for that store and, as a result, I have to taste everything I bring in to make notes for the Crew for when I’m not there.

    Anyway, I’ll not redo the original text and will be better-prepared to make comments prior to entering the frikkin CAPTCHA code.

    All the best,
    Some kinada TJ’s wine guy

    • Hello from another WA TJ’s person – one way to get around the webpage timing out if you type slowly is to type it (your comments) all in another program, copy it, and then paste it into the webpage when you’re all done. It shouldn’t make a difference if you type your comments before or after entering the captcha code (I’ve done it both ways successfully). Looking forward to your input!

  3. Hiya,

    I think I remember reading that Total Wine is planning on make inroads into the Bay Area starting sometime soon according to Shaken Daily.
    Concord perhaps? I believe they’re already in Sacto.

    Also folks, if you’d like to see our buyers find something, please e-mail them.
    They listen to direct comments from the customer much more than things from the store level. However, you need to remember that the wineries involved need to be able to make things in the quantities we need at the price we want so you can pay the price you want. Not an easy task.

  4. Great blog! So, I’m new to drinking wine (gasp, I know) and wondered what you would pair with chili? I like both red and white wine, but tend to stay away from any that are too dry.

    • L.M., I don’t think you can lose if you pair your chili with a sparkling wine–like the $6 Non-Vintage Zonin Prosecco Brut recommended by Jason. Good luck!

        • @LM: I’m not sure these are available in your area but if you prefer your wines on the fruitier side, perhaps you might want to try Cocobon ($6.99) with your chili. Mostly Zin with a little Cab Franc if I remember correctly and my customers love it.
          Also, if your a fan of dark & chewy beers, the TJ’s Vintage Ale ($4.99) is a classic combo with this meal. I’m a chili head of sorts and we’ll be making a batch on Friday using the Boatswain Chocolate Stout. I’ll let y’all know how it turns out.

  5. Any TJ’s folks have quantity info and/or feedback on the new New Zealand offerings by Seismic? There’s a pinot and SB that just arrived. Tried the SB and it seemed like a good replacement to the Ferngreen. Will this be around for a while or is it a hustle buy?

  6. I tried a bottle of Trentatre and picked up a candied-fruit nose that I associate with a heavy hand on the sulfite preservatives. Anyone else catching this? Seemed like a fine picnic wine, but not very serious.

  7. Any thoughts on the 2010 Trentatre Rosso? I just picked up a bottle and thought it was pretty good… Granted I’m no wine expert. I did like it better than the 2010 Chariot Gypsy though.

  8. I liked the 2010 Trentatre. While I found 2009 to have a lot of vegetable aromas, there’s only a hint of that and plenty of fruit this time. Not as soft and sweet as 2008. 2007 will probably remain the most structured and complex, but no shame in second place for 2010.

  9. I find that in Arizona we do NOT get all the wines (popular wineries, boutique, etc) thst you get in Calif. Wish we did. But will print out your recommendatioms an do some serious looking. We do “Calif”coast thru Temucla about every 2 years and bring back cases to stock up. We are realy into Chilean wines and our TJ has done a fair job stocking.

  10. Howdy all,

    Hope everyone is having a Happy New Year.

    The Boatswain Chocolate Stout was just the thing for chili, yum!
    @Janet: See if your store has access to the latest TJ’s Reserve Chilean Red Blend: Petit Verdot & Cab Franc. Very interesting, bright on the tongue and a hit with Crew at our last Tasting.

    Attn: Pinot Noir fans, we’ve got a lot in the house right now.
    2010 County Fair (Santa Lucia Highlands): Bright friut, medium-bodied, easy drinking: $9
    2007 Carneros Creek (Carneros): A little funkier, a bit more weight and barrel spice: $9
    TJ’s Grand Reserve Russian River: Really smooth going down, classic for the area, Crew really liked this one as well: $13
    2009 Lady Slipper( Carneros): De-lic-ious! Bigger, better, loved it at the Wine Bar a few months ago, glad to see it cheaper: $19 (usually 22-25+)
    Getting the Picton Bay in tonight: $8, will report back later

  11. We wished we had bought CASES of the Donatiello 2008 Russian Valley Pinot Noir! It was recommended and I only bought 4 bottles! Big Mistake! Excellent wine!!!

  12. Pingback: Wine Wednesday: 2010 Perrin Côtes du Rhône Reserve « Petite Chablis

  13. Hey Jason, any idea if Trader will ever have another offering from Henrys Drive Austraila again? Thanks great list… out to look at the store inventory – Michigan

  14. On the old subject of Amador zins, Trinchero makes one under the Zinfatuation label that is tasty and lip-smacking without the big alcohol sledge hammer and prune marmalade characteristics . Cost Plus World Market carries it and recently had it on sale for about $7 a bottle. Paydirt!

  15. The 2010 Trentatre Rosso has made its appearance, and with two bottles under the belt, I can say it is still kinda, sorta, um, er……good. It has traces of taste characteristics of earlier vintages, but like the Epicuro wines the TJ Empire continues to market, it has lost its distinctiveness. At a $6 price of admission it remains a good buy, but as you can see, this is faint praise. Meanwhile, I am communing with ancestors with the rustic, chewy, nectareous Grifone primitivo at $4 a pop.

  16. Trader Joe’s had an amazing french champagne this Christmas (2011) I can’t remember the name. Can you help me out on this one. It had tiny bubbles and a nice toast flavor… Is there any left ? I should have bought a case or 3. Can you recommend a toasty champagne or bubbly under $30?

  17. As always, a thoughtful selection, but sadly #1-4 are nowhere to be seen in TJ stores around here (Chicago area). Also liked the Refosco (who knew?) but not enough to buy more. See comment on 2010 Trentatre Rosso above. Griffone Primitivo is long gone (too soon). Perrin CdR is a $10 bottle here. Go figure.

    • Sorry I missed your previous note on Trentatre. Worst fears realized (even though we know it will always happen…). Also sorry 1-4 can’t be found! As for Perrin it is always crazy that TJ’s imports from Europe are cheaper on the west coast than further east. I grew up in Milwaukee and see it whenever I visit. They must ship everything here and then redistribute. Just need one guy with an MBA (or a GD) to tell you that doesn’t make sense… Let me know if you want to put together a top 10 list for the Chicago area ;-) I know many that would be thrilled and appreciate it!

      • Thanks. Would be delighted but question whether it’s possible to come up with 10 other than the ones you’ve already suggested in your “classic” category. Although the TJ stores around here don’t always carry the ones you get in California (Buena Vista Carneros pinor noir, for example, which elsewhere goes for about $20), the general selection is probably not that much different: Widely available brands like Bogle, Mondavi, and so on (not always at the best prices), plus the usual flotsam and jetsam that washes on to TJ’s shelves then disappears, and of course the dread Charles Shaw concoctions of tank car plonk. Out of curiosity, I did ask one of the crew at the local store what she thought were the top ten wines there, and she proceeded to give me one of the best sales pitches (of about 30 wines) I’ve ever heard, but a lot of the stuff was the sweetish red blends under catchy labels that have gone popular or things that I’ve tried and didn’t like (Nerelo (sic) del Bastardo!). I did recently pick up a $10 bottle of 2005 Sagrantino di Montefeltro, a fairly rare wine from Umbria that normally sells for around $40 when done right, but with a doctored label. The feedback I’ve read on it (Viva la vino) were pretty crappy, and even when I asked the gal at TJs what she thought, she gave a face as if she had swallowed a bad oyster. If I get up the intestinal fortitude to crack it open and drink it, maybe I’ll provide a review. Cheers!

  18. On subject of 2005 Sagrantino di Montefalco, $9.99 @ local TJs, this at first opening is tannic-angry juice that emerges from the bottle like Umbrian cough medicine. After decanting and two hours (you can see faint micro bubbles evaporating), it becomes a fairly interesting drink of plums laced with cinnamon and nutmeg, an acquired taste. Certainly no bulk buy, but for an adventure and with the right food (wild boar risotto with truffles?), it’s worth a try.

  19. We’ve had a dozen bottles of the Linen from Washington State; its fabulous. All velvet, no heat, a lovely wine.

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