Tag Archives: Trader Joe’s

Rosé Roundup I: Trader Joe’s

I’ll be posting a number of tasting comparisons over the next 2 weeks, reviewing our options for summer rosé.  Today’s review is four from Trader Joe’s: two Chilean, one Spanish, and one from California.  These are all wines that are exclusive to Trader Joe’s.


Loma Negra Rosé (2016) Valle Central, Chile – $5

Color: very pale gris-style rosé.

Aroma: tart cherry and berry notes.

Taste: light, mostly berries and a touch of sweetness.  Not much there at all.

Vinas Chilenas Rosario Estate Rosé (2016) Valle Central, Chile – $4

Color: rose-gold.

Aroma: strawberry and a little yeast on the nose.

Taste: strawberry and raspberry, a little fuller than the Loma Negra.  Short finish.

La Granja 360 Garnacha Rosé (2015) Carninena, Spain – $5

I highly recommend a number of the La Granja reds; they are really good pork-chop-and-hamburger wines, and you can’t beat the price.  Let’s see how the rosé fares.

Color: dark pink and copper.

Aroma: the nose is quite faint – raspberry?

Taste: more tannic, Garnacha quality to this.  Unfortunately, also a short finish.

VinTJs Pinot Noir Rose (2016) Arroyo Grande Valley, California – $9

Color: darkest, a solid pinkish-red.

Aroma: sweetish, with dark fruit and strawberry.

Taste: a fruity style of Pinot, with lots of strawberry.  Decent body and length of finish, finally.


Overall, a pretty disappointing bunch.  The first three are all Not Recommended – the VinTJs is good enough, but nothing special.


Tasting Note: Chateau Tayac

This is a Trader Joe’s exclusive from Bordeaux that I picked up late last year. It’s a bit early to be drinking 2014 Margaux, even from the petits chateaux, but let’s see if it’s got any potential for aging – if so, I’ll snag a case.  I’m drinking this to accompany a simple cheeseburger with sautéd onions.

Chateau Tayac (2014) Margaux, France – $17

Color: quite dark, purple on the edges and black in the center of the glass.

Aroma: black fruit, cedar, and earth notes.  Nose is a bit impenetrable right now, I’ll give it some air and check again in 30 minutes.

Taste: yes, this is young – a mix of tannins and very dark black fruit up front, then opens up slightly in the midpalate, and finishes very tannic. Aerating in the mouth yields blackberry, dark plums, cassis, and just a touch of chocolate.

40 minutes after my first tastes, I topped up the glass and gave it a good swirl.  Much softer now, I’m happy to report – still lots of blackberry fruit, and solid age-worthy tannins.  The nose is still a little tight, but that’s to be expected.

Recommended – I’m calling my local TJ’s tomorrow to order a case.


Back from hiatus – new location, new bottle of Pinot Noir

Greetings, all.

I apologize for being absent from the blog for a few months.  A new job, moving, the usual excuses.  But I’m back and tasting again – I have a few notes from over the summer that I’ll dust off and type in sometime soon, as well.

Today I have a new California Pinot Noir from Trader Joe’s, Bear Boat. I’m hoping this fits into the CBG (cheap but good) category.

Bear Boat Pinot Noir (2010) Russian River Valley, California – $10

20140806_203937Color: nice translucent Pinot nature with reddish-purple tones throughout.

Aroma: a heady, strawberry-and-cream nose, with other red fruit notes and a little spiciness underneath.

Taste: Comes on gently, then fuller in the mid-palate and towards the finish. But true Pinot character throughout – I highly doubt there’s Zin or Syrah blended into this. There is some noticeable heat (13.5% alcohol), but a little chill takes care of that nicely.  If you drink this on the deck in August heat, make sure you have a bucket of cool water to keep it in.

Overall, not stunning, but a respectable Pinot for under $15. Recommended.

Fadeaway Pinot Noir

I’m hoping this falls into the cheap-but-good category! Let’s see how this goes down with a simple onion & pepper pizza.

Fadeaway Pinot Noir (2012) Monterey County, California – $8

20140423_075404(0)Color: on the purplish side, but it’s not dense or opaque – which probably means it really is 100% Pinot, and hasn’t been stretched with Zin or Syrah.

Aroma: raspberry and strawberry fruit – just a little hint of cherry as well.

Taste: more fruit – it’s light and lively on the tongue, and the finish is very soft and easy with a little floral and forest-floor character.

Recommended – this is an eminently drinkable true Pinot for under $15, which is a rare find these days.


Robert Hall Syrah

A big bottle from Trader Joe’s – you don’t see a lot of domestic wines there that run more than $15. I’m drinking this with salad and smoked trout.

Robert Hall Syrah (2008) Paso Robles, California – $17

20140331_200539Color: Purple in the center, fading to purplish-red on the rim, and no visible sediment.

Aroma: big black fruit aromas, with some molasses and nutmeg underneath.

Taste: a little more toward the dried and stewed fruit end of the spectrum, with more of that nutmeg and a good dollop of tannin and oak towards the finish. Good acidity, not over-extracted, and 14.5% alcohol, so this is very versatile.

I like this a lot.  It’s varietally correct and balanced, and has a lot of depth. If you’re tired of Australian Shiraz that taste baked and burned, give this a shot. Recommended.


Comique Revolution White

There are only some cryptic hints on the label as to the grapes – I’m guessing a Rhone blend, possibly with some Chardonnay.

Comique Revolution White (2010) Central Coast, California – $6

20140326_201843Color: brassy yellow, perhaps a tinge of green.

Aroma: I get some floral notes and white peaches, which leads me to believe my White Rhone guess was correct.

Taste: heady and perfumed up front, then a blast of acidity and stone-fruit in the mid-palate and some lingering oak and toast notes on the finish. It’s hard to be sure, but I’m going to say there’s around 25% Chardonnay based on the finish, with the rest Marsanne, Roussane, Grenache Blanc, and maybe some Muscat to produce the initial impression.

It’s interesting, but I don’t think it’s well balanced – the different taste impressions are disjointed. And it doesn’t have enough body for a food wine – oaky Chard lovers might enjoy this as a cocktail hour drink, but I’m going to pass.  Not recommended.


Winetasting report: Trader Joe’s, Ann Arbor

Stopped into the Ann Arbor store for their Saturday afternoon tasting – a typical crowded weekend afternoon in a Trader Joe’s! They had three wines on tasting, and I’d only had one of them before, so I ran the flight.

Villa Sonia Pinot Grigio (2012) Venezia, Italy – $6

More body than typical for a Pinot Grigio, with lower acidity and a full mouthfeel. This is something to have with food, not as a cocktail-hour drink. A simple risotto or some poached fish would be good pairings.

Valreas (2012) Cotes du Rhone Villages, France – $7

I tried the 2011 vintage of this wine just a few months ago, and I have to say I prefer it. The 2012 bottling over-the-top on the oak, and you don’t get nearly the amount of fruit as in the 2011. Skip the 2012.

Revelation Cabernet Sauvignon (2011) Pays d’Oc, France – $6

This was really tight. The Pays d’Oc region is mostly too hot to make good, expressive Cabernet – much like the Central Valley of California. I found this to be a little stemmy as well. Not recommended.