Wine Rating & Review Face-Off, Trader Joe's Grower's Reserve: *** $ Chardonnay, California, 2020, versus *** $ Red Wine, California, 2019 = BEST VALUES

Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Trader Joe's Grower's Reserve wines.

By way of background: Today we'll review two wines from Trader Joe's wine portfolio, both in the mid-range "Grower's Reserve" line.  This is mid-range for Trader Joe's, but most of us would consider these wines in the bargain category, still being in the single-digit U.S. dollars per bottle.  Nonetheless, they are each at about twice the price of the widely-recognized "Two Buck Chuck" category in Trader Joe wines. You can view the full range of our Trader Joe wine tasting notes here.  Let's see what these bring in the glass!


Inspired by Trader Joe's Grower's Reserve Chardonnay: We're planning for a fishing excursion today, lots of prep work before we head out.

Specs: This California chardonnay is finished at 12.5% alcohol and first sampled two years from vintage date, in May, 2022.

In the glass: Very pale yellow/gold.

On the nose: Poured at chilled temperature and swirled vigorously, shows a chalky pleasant funkiness with some light gooseberry shining through.

On the palate:   Clean at first blush, bringing mineral sleekness, wisps of pineapple and modest acids that quickly dart into your cheeks.   The lightly sweet acids stay tucked there for quite awhile, before gentle fading.

In summary: Overall, does touch three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, achieving best value status given the attractive price point.


Inspired by Trader Joe's Grower's Reserve Red Wine: We're chiseling stones near the outdoor hearth fireplace, thinking we may be able to build some arrowheads.

Specs: This red wine blend is from an unspecified mix of California grapes, is finished at 13.5% alcohol and first sampled three years from vintage date, in May, 2022.

In the glass: Deep black cherry, almost opaque in the center. 

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows timid hints of hay and ripe blackberry.

On the palate:  Rustic start to the sip, with chalk and dry blackberry.  Sits in the middle of your tongue for a long pause, then slowly fades to your cheeks with a very clean finish.

In summary: Like the chardonnay, just touches three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, making this also a best value at the price point.

Overall:  Both Trader Joe's sneak in as best values, with neither one jumping to the head of the pack!  The minerality and layers of the chardonnay give it just a slight nod. 

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