By way of background, opening thoughts: For those folks in states where Trader Joe's sells wines, you will find an intriguing selection of exclusives. Today we are sampling two wines from Trader Joe's Reserve collection. Each of these will cost you five times what a "Two Buck Chuck" runs, but they are still within the lowest cost category for Spirit of Wine. So let's see what we've got with this pinot noir and carignane; the former grape one that is almost impossible to find from Napa at this price point, and the latter a unique grape as a stand-alone varietal.
Original tasting and review : This is Trader Joe's Reserve Pinot Noir, Napa Valley, California, 2011, finished at 13.5% alcohol, vinted and bottled by ABJ Wines in Geyserville, California.
In the glass: Light ruby with hints of orange.
On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows boldly fragrant bright, slightly plumy fruit with definite elements of pleasant funk and also a hint of clean laundry, barely-ripe strawberries and fresh rhubarb. From the aroma, seems like this will be bright and spiky.
On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact quite mouth filling and fragrant, bringing a softer, deeper mid-palate than I anticipated, with clear but subtle dark oak tones wafting in on top of the deep red cherry and raspberry/blackberry fruit. Full, fresh and clean finish that linger just long enough to remind you it is there.
In summary: Overall, rates three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, with a big plus for depth and brightness both. Awesome best value; even more awesome when you consider the crazy low price for a Napa-sourced pinot noir!
Following long decant, full day under vacuum in partially filled bottle: Fresh rhubarb dominates on the consistent nose. Slightly softer palate, yet entirely in line with the elements from right out of the bottle. Growing stronger and deeper with air. Stunning at the price point.
Original tasting and review : This is Trader Joe's Reserve Carignane, Paso Robles, California, 2010, finished at 14.2% alcohol, produced and bottled by Castoro Cellars, San Miguel, California.
In the glass: Deep medium red, not opaque in the center.
On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows funky old plums stomped and left in the basement. From the aroma, seems like this will be husky and perhaps challenging.
On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact quite bright and exuberant, with a spreading carpet of gritty velvet that rolls along your tongue towards your cheeks. There the violets and dark blue fruits settle in with acids for a full minute or two, slowly, slowly fading.
In summary: Overall, rates four stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale. Crazy, screaming best value.
Following long decant, full day under vacuum in partially filled bottle: Less funky on the nose, cleaner plums. The palate is fresh and enjoyable too, but somehow a little less compelling than when the bottle was first cracked open.
Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Trader Joe's Reserve wines.
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