Saturday, February 17, 2018

Face-off: Trader Joe's Zinfandels!


By way of background:  Today we are sampling two California zinfandels by Trader Joe's; one from the wide-ranging Central Coast area and one from the more-focused Paso Robles region.  Both zins are in the bargain price range.  We'll conduct this tasting as a face-off!
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Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Trader Joe's Coastal Zinfandel.

Original tasting and review : This is $ Trader Joe's Coastal Zinfandel, Central Coast, California, 2016, finished at 13.9% alcohol and first sampled two years from vintage date, in February, 2018.

Inspired by this wine: Hopping on a horse-drawn sleigh through the snow towards the playhouse for an evening performance.

In the glass: Deep magenta, moving towards opaque from an inch in.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows deep and bold purple fruit with a chalky wash that settles things down.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate start with bright and vibrant red and black berries, crawling quickly into your cheeks with perky acids. Fixes itself there for a slow fade.  Gentle hints of sweetness just barely begin to challenge the acids.

In summary: Overall, rates two stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, with a plus for poignant brightness.  Wants to accompany a creamy soup rather than sit on its own as an aperitif.
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Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Trader Joe's Grower's Reserve Zinfandel.

Original tasting and review : This is $ Trader Joe's Grower's Reserve Zinfandel, Paso Robles, California, 2016, finished at 14.5% alcohol and first sampled two years from vintage date, in February, 2018.

Inspired by this wine: Enjoying using the old-school bellows to build the fireplace flames.

In the glass: Deep mahogany, moving to almost opaque in the center.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows deep and balanced black fruit touched with some oak surrounds.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate show soft, full, furry ripe red and black berries up front.  The juicy flavors spread across the palate, bringing ripe raspberries, blackberries and even hints of honeydew melon.  Enough acids and tannins follow to keep the sip lively and there is a long slow fade that beckons for another taste.

In summary: Overall, rates three stars with a plus for rich layers on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, making this a no-brainer "best value" at its insanely attractive price point.  Just right to sip on its own or to accompany rich meats.

Re the face-off:  Grower's Reserve Zinfandel tops Coastal Zinfandel by a wide margin and shows a recent price differential of only a few cents a bottle.  A nice showing overall by the Trader Joe's team.

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