The Archive: Trader Joe’s Top 10 Wine List

Originally posted: December 1, 2011:

1. 2009 Trentatre Rosso ($6) – A long-time favorite the 2007 version of this wine has previously graced the #1 spot in my Top 10 list. I was nearly flabbergasted when it did so again with its easy drinking, rustic, food friendly style.

2. 2009 C. Donatiello Pinot Noir ($10) – At $38 retail this one is a steal (as is the Chardonnay) if you can find it. Sadly it has just about disappeared. If you strike out here I’m hearing that the Sebastopol Hills (via Alan how also tipped me off to the fact it now hails from Santa Barbara) and the Carneros Creek Reserve Pinot (from joshiemac) are worth a try….

3. 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’ve already grabbed another six bottles…

4. 2009 Tribunal Cellars Red ($17 for 1.5L) – The downside? It only comes in 1.5L bottles which means you have to pay to play. The upside is that it delivers. Big, juicy and balanced. Perfect for a winter stew or cold evening by the fire.

5. 2011 Ferngreen Sauvignon Blanc ($6) – Another QPR winner from New Zealand that again fuels my belief that Suavignon Blanc (and Malbec for a red) is the most consistent wine available for <$10. This one is big and bright with loads of gooseberry and a dry, lip smacking finish. Sadly Angela informs us this one is also in short supply. My top thought on a replacement is the old, dependable Geyser Peak.

6. 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 too…

7. 2010 Rabbit Ridge Allure de Robles ($5) – I think Erich Russell, the founder at Rabbit Ridge, makes the most honest $5 bottle of wine you are likely to find. Juicy with lush, peppery cherry fruit this one is big and spicy. If you are an Allures de Robles fan get it while you can as the 2010 production was reduced by 60% and the 2011 vintage was nearly wiped out by hail.

8. 2010 Honey Bunch Cellars Chardonnay ($6) – Of course I have to add my token Chardonnay. This one is subdued by normal standards with warm spicy, floral notes, baked apples, and a crisp citrus finish. Simple and pleasant. While not quite as good the red from this label is worth a try in a pinch…

9. 2010 Quinson Fils Rose ($5) – Rose under $8 is usually a difficult water to navigate. This one hails from Provence (perhaps the motherland of Rose). Pleasant Grenache like strawberry and watermelon fruit along with a spiced minerality. Dry, crisp and pleasing. So if that sounds good ignore the weird bottle shape and give this one a try.

10. 2010 Chariot Gypsy ($5) – Perhaps a nostalgic pick but there is a glass half full story to tell here. Sweet with juicy cherries, soft acidity and a short, spiced, creamy finish. This is an easy, simple, pleasing wine without any of the flaws you typically see at this price point. If not for nostalgia perhaps I would have selected the 2010 Spiral Wines Cabernet Sauvignon instead (which I recommend for those that don’t like their reds a touch sweet)

One for cooking for those looking to sip while stirring the sauce…
2010 Roccalta Sangiovese ($4) – Soft and smooth with clean cherry flavors, dried herbs and spice along with a nice acidity. Simple and pleasing. A perfect candidate to be the base for sauces while providing something enjoyable to sip on the side.

Plus a wild card which I was keen on…
2010 Found Object Gewurztraminer ($5) – When I first tried this I was a fan. Since differing opinions from two palates I trust (Danny and Angela) have left me reticent to add this to my list without first trying it again…

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

Originally posted: November 23, 2010:

1. 2007 Picket Fence Pinot Noir ($10) – With Thankgiving days away and the knowledge that this one is (or was) available from coast to coast it was a natural fit for my top choice. A very nice example of what much more expensive Pinot’s deliver. This one usually retails for $30. If you can’t find this one grab the Sebastopol Hills (my take on the ‘08) instead.

2. 2008 Steelhead Sauvignon Blanc ($6) – A very nice California styled Sauvignon Blanc this one would again make a fine fit on your holiday tables. Plush, full and balanced with cantaloupe and citrus on top of a firm mineral backbone which keeps the palate crisp and refreshing. If you can’t find this try the Overlake Sauvignon Blanc.

3. 2007 Roustabout Meritage ($6) – Did I really find my replacement to the Franc Merlot? Just about. This starts interesting with brown sugar, blackberry fruit and spice on the nose and is smooth and juicy on the palate with tangy tannins. I’m so close to loving this one… Just a bit more acidity and I’m buying by the case. Still buying more as this one is plenty enjoyable…

4. 2008 Trader Joe’s Pinot Noir Reserve Carneros ($10) – Yet to review this one but we have another winner here. Lighter bodied (and possibly more elegant) than the Picket Fence this one is smooth and juicy with nice fruit and acidity on a dry, orange rind finish. Trader Joe’s is swimming in great Pinot offerings for less than $10. Another alternative is the Caretaker Pinot Noir.

5. 2008 Now & Zen Alsace White ($5) – This one is a nice follow up to the ’07 . If I am not pairing this one with my spicy Thai or Indian meals you can almost be certain the Dr. Beckermann Riesling is taking its place…

6. 2009 King Shag Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($7) – Another lacking a review (my thoughts on the ’07) but it wasn’t lacking from my summer rotation as this o was once again a go to offering. Being much grassier, this is for those that are a fan of the Kiwi style (like me!). If you prefer to stay domestic the Geyser Peak is quite refreshing as well.

7. 2009 Overlake Chardonnay ($6) – Most of you know that I am not a huge of this varietal. Given that this seems to deliver the majority of things people love about California Chardonnay at a fraction of the cost. I’ve already served this one at numerous parties and received nothing but compliments. Feel free to do the same…

8. 2009 Emergence White ($7) – If you are interested in learning about new grapes you can experience Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Viognier and Roussanne in this bottling. Full bodied and viscous on the palate with peaches and cantaloupe flavors before a mineral acidity kicks into balance this one out. For those looking for something off the beaten path try this with one of your holiday meals.

9. I’m going to do a little cheating here and give a nod to a few of my long time favorites; the Perrin Reserve ($7) and J. Vidal-Fleury ($7) from the Cotes du Rhone and the Casillero del Diablo Carmenere ($8). Classics as I call them. I’ve enjoyed these vintage after vintage and always look forward to my next bottle.

10. And I’ll finish with a bit more cheating to highlight some favorite value plays; Epicuro Aglianico ($5), Archeo Nero d’ Avola ($4) and the 2008 La Granja Tempranillo ($4). I haven’t tried any of these of late but have my fingers crossed that these are still delivering a lot of bang for the buck…

Special Selections– for those looking for bubbly or dessert…
Bubbly: NV Zonin Prosecco Brut ($6)
Dessert: NV Porto Morgado Ruby Port ($7)

Others of Interest– these crossed my mind as I was writing the latest Top 10… Laurent Reverdy Sancerre ($10), Honey Moon Viognier ($5), Trentatre Rosso ($6), Novella Synergy ($7), Hogue Genesis Cabernet Sauvignon ($7), TJ’s Petit Verdot Reserve ($10), Dos Brotos Ranch Red ($7)

Originally posted: December 27, 2009:

1. 2007 Trentatre Rosso ($6) – A wine that has grown on me with every bottle. I am now smitten with this well balanced effort that offers a very nice finish to boot. Supplies are waning and I’ve been grabbing every bottle I can find…

2. 2007 Rabbit Ridge Allure de Robles ($5) – If my readers haven’t emptied stores of this one by now you may still have a chance to get some. The only reason this didn’t make the top spot is the high ABV%. That said, I just grabbed another case of this a few days back. Fantastic stuff!

3. 2008 Sauvignon Republic Stellenbosch Sauvignon Blanc ($7) – I’ve yet to try the Marlborough (91 points from the Wine Spectator) or the Russian River but already stocked up on all three. Pretty soon I intend to do a blind tasting of the lot. Can I pick out the differences in terroir? Stay tuned!

4. 2008 VINTJS Syrah ($7) – As I’ve previously mentioned this wine was made by Bob Lindquist of Qupe. Given how much I’ve enjoyed those wines I was tickled to find this one. I put a case in the cellar which I plan on checking in on in 3 years or so…

5. 2007 Now & Zen Wasabi White ($5) – Another one I’ve enjoyed more with each bottle, this is a perfect pairing for a spicy Thai or Indian dish. I’ve got a few more bottles waiting in the rack for this situtation.

6. 2007 Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve ($7) – Another I’ve been enjoying vintage after vintage. I’m a big fan of the GSM comnination. My latest post was the ’05. The ’07 shows nice fruit and pepper/herbal aromas. Still haven’t had better for the money!

7. 2008 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Carmenere ($8) – I’m sipping this one as I type and think it deserves an even higher rating. A wine I’ve often called “old dependable” as I have been enjoying this for more vintages than I can remember dating back to my pre-blogging days. The first recorded instance is the ’05 vintage. The ’08 shows smoky meat and herbal notes (eucalyptus?) that merge with a dried cherry finish. A nice structure throughout. Never hesitate to grab this one…

8. 2006 Chiusa Grande Tommolo Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo ($5) – A wine that has disappointed few and delivers vintage after vintage. Tart cherries on the nose that make it to the palate with a light tannic, tingly finish. A perfect match for spaghetti and meatballs.

9. 2008 La Granja Tempranillo ($4) – Another I have been drinking with regularity. Apparently this one is a take on “when pigs can fly”. Showing soft rounded fruit up front that leads to a dry, herbal mid-palate and a tongue smacking finish. I’ve already had nearly a case of this one and still have the racks loaded.

10. 2007 Dr. Beckermann Piesporter Michelsberg Riesling Spatlese ($5) – Yet another long time fave, I’ve been enjoying this one since the ’05 vintage. This one now as some competition on the scene with the Now & Zen but is providing a slightly sweeter alternative that is still appealing in this household.

Others of Interest– these crossed my mind as I was writing the latest Top 10… Epicuro Aglianico ($5), Down Under Chardonnay ($3), VINTJS Chardonnay ($7), King Shag Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($7), Bogle Petite Sirah ($9), Archero Nero d’ Avola Ruggero di Tasso ($4), Geyser Peak California Sauvignon Blanc ($8), 2008 Honey Moon Viognier ($5), Callabriga Dao Red ($9)

Special Selections– for those looking for bubbly or dessert…
Bubbly: NV Zonin Prosecco Brut ($6) or NV RSVP Brut Sparkling ($6).
Dessert: NV Porto Morgado Ruby Port ($7)

Originally posted: August 10, 2009:

1. 2007 Castle Rock Mendocino County Pinot Noir ($10) – Worries were this one was on its way out but a fresh supply arrived. Delicate floral nose, soft strawberries on the palate and a silky finish. Get it while you can, at $10 this Pinot is worth every cent.

2. 2007 Chariot Gypsy ($5) – Those that are following along know I have been tracking the Gypsy from coast to coast. While stock in the west is limited or sold out this one seems to still be available across the rest of the country. A perfect fruit forward, juicy quaffer that pairs perfectly with burgers. I grabbed two cases

3. 2007 King Shag Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($7) – The mercury is spiking and so is my consumption of Sauvignon Blanc. Lot’s of nice ones available at Trader Joe’s. This one strikes the perfect balance between grassy and citrus flavors and delivers a crisp, minerally finish. This one is my top Sauvignon Blanc pick, perfect for a warm summer evening on the patio.

4. 2007 Epicuro Aglianico ($5) – This bottle previously lived atop the Top 10 list and made a strong impression recently. The nose showed cherries while the palate and fruity leading to a lingering spicy finish. A nice light red for the summer. Don’t be afraid to try any of the other Epicuro offerings either. I’ve yet to post a review for this vintage but here is the review for the ’05.

5. 2008 Honey Moon Viognier ($5) – There are times during the summer when you really want to drink a nice red but need something more refreshing. This is when I turn to Viognier. On the nose this one delivers fully pollinated flowers and red/orange fruit. On the peach and honey are prevalent on a full bodied frame of white stony, fruits with a hint of sweetness of the finish. Perfect with salmon.

6. 2005 Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve ($7) – With more cooking on the grill there has been more of this on the table. A typical Rhone GSM blend here (60/20/20) with a nose loaded of fruit and pepper. The palate brings cherry and blackberry before merging with spicy, barrel flavors on the finish. Could have just as easily picked the J. Vidal-Fleury or San Greal Red Supper Wine here as I drink them interchangably. Pick one next time your barbecuing chicken.

7. 2008 Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc ($8) – Another one that previously held the top spot, this one starts with citrus aromas. Light, crisp and tart in the mouth the finish is full of lemon and lime flavors interlaced on a crisp, acidic backbone. Another perfect summer wine, pair it with salad or on its own. I’ve yet to review this vintage but here is my post on the ’06.

8. 2006 Chiusa Grande Tommolo Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo ($5) – Despite the reappearance of the Aglianico this one is still a regular in my house. Tart cherries on the nose that make it to the palate with a light tannic, tingly finish. Should be on your table whenever pasta is and then some.

9. 2008 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Carmenere ($8) – It’s summer and this is a bit heavy given the weather but sometimes I just need a bigger red.. Here you get smoky, leather tobacco notes on top of nice, rich fruit. Give it a try next time you are grilling fajitas or pork chops for that matter. Again yet to review the current vintage but here are my notes on the ’06

10. 2006 The California Wine Party Franc Merlot ($5) – This one is still on the shelf but guessing its days are numbered. Fruit and a bit of green pepper on the nose. Soft tannins stay in the background and the chewy, cherry flavors linger on leading to a long dry finish. I’m looking forward to my next bottle.

Just Missed– these were those that were close to making the list but couldn’t squeeze into the Top 10… Bogle Petite Sirah ($9), Callabriga Dao Red ($9), Archero Nero d’ Avola Ruggero di Tasso ($4), Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Riesling ($6), VINTJS Sauvignon Blanc ($6), Kono Sauvignon Blanc ($8), Chateau des Cleons Muscadet ($6)

Special Selections– for those looking for bubbly or dessert…
Bubbly: NV Zonin Prosecco Brut ($6) or if you prefer sweeter NV Schloss Biebrich Sekt
White Dessert: 2008 Flore de Moscato ($5)
Red Dessert: NV Porto Morgado Ruby Port ($7)

Others of Interest– those I’ve bought but yet to drink or those that I am looking forward to trying again… Picton Bay Pinot Noir ($8), Caretaker Pinot Noir ($10), Dr. Jebediah Drinkwell’s Meritage ($9), Hunter Ashby Cabernet Sauvignon ($10), Howell Mountain Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon ($15), Gaetano D’Aquino Orvieto Classico ($5), Epicuro Vermentino ($5), Pancake Cellars Big Day White ($5)

Originally posted: May 22, 2009:

1. 2007 Castle Rock Mendocino County Pinot Noir ($10) – If you are looking for something to accompany food or drink on a warm day this is the wine to grab. Delicate floral nose, soft strawberries on the palate and a silky finish. At $10 for a Pinot this is worth every cent.

2. 2007 Overlake Cabernet Sauvignon ($6) – This one is already getting hard to find. Typical Cab with dark fruits and oak on the nose, balanced mid palate and a fruity, peppery finish. Not much on complexity but a enjoyable everyday fruit forward drinker.

3. 2007 King Shag Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($7) – As the temperature goes north so does my consumption of Sauvignon Blanc. This one strikes the perfect balance between grassy and citrus flavors and delivers a crisp, minerally finish. My top New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc pick at Trader Joe’s. Perfect for a warm summer evening on the patio.

4. 2006 Bogle Petite Sirah ($9) – Wow this one is loaded! blueberry, leather and pepper are just some of the things that make an appearance before a finish that lingers on nicely. Should rank higher but just too heavy to drink to often (for me). Grab this next time you are grilling steaks.

5. 2006 Chiusa Grande Tommolo Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo ($5) – Trader Joe’s has a lot of good Italian wines but this is the best of the bunch (IMHO). Tart cherries on the nose that make it to the palate with a light tannic, tingly finish. Should be on your table whenever pasta is and then some.

6. 2005 Callabriga Dao Red ($9) – Like Argentina, it feels as if I have been waiting for Trader Joe’s to stock a Portuguese offering I could adore. Finally. A pleasure from start to finish. Blackberries up front on a dry, leathery, backbone which lingers/tickles on a lasting finish. Skip the Douro of the same label though but grab this one at will.

7. 2006 The California Wine Party Franc Merlot ($5) – An oldy but a goody. This one has weathered election season and lives on. Fruit, pepper and bit of green pepper on the nose. Soft tannins stay in the background and the chewy, cherry flavors linger on leading to a long dry finish. I’m looking forward to my next bottle.

8. 2007 Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Riesling ($6) –As with many of these, another reader tip delivers to the Top 10. Keep’em coming! A crisp nose, green apple prevalent on the palate with peachy notes in the background. Stones and mineral with hints of lemon rind on an almost Sauvgnon Blanc-ish finish. I’m a fan. If you like it sweet stick to the Dr. Beckermann from Germany. If you want all the good flavors of Riesling without a hint of sweetness this is the one for you.

9. 2005 Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve ($7) – A typical Rhone GSM blend here (60/20/20) with a nose loaded of fruit and pepper. The palate brings cherry and blackberry before merging with spicy, barrel flavors on the finish. Could have just as easily picked the 2006 J. Vidal-Fleury here. Either will go perfect next time your barbecuing chicken.

10. 2006 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Carmenere ($8) – Mr. Dependable. What are you doing way down here? You see, I’ve been cheating on you with some other Wines of Chile but I haven’t forgotten you. Your smoky, leather tobacco notes on top of nice, rich fruit. A perfect introduction to Carmenere (pronounced Car-men-YAIR). Give it a try next time you are grilling fajitas or pork chops for that matter.

Just Missed– these were those that were close to making the list but couldn’t squeeze into the Top 10… Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc ($8), Kono Sauvignon Blanc ($8), 2007 Chateau des Cleons Muscadet ($6), Epicuro Aglianico ($5), Archero Nero d’ Avola Ruggero di Tasso ($4), NV Porto Morgado Ruby Port ($7)

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3 thoughts on “The Archive: Trader Joe’s Top 10 Wine List

    • Pillar Box Red can be found in abundance at any COSTCO. More recently, it is available in 1.5 litre bottles and very budget-friendly as well.

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