In the wine section of Trader Joe's, I always search first for the Grand Reserve and Platinum Reserve wines. While these are the most expensive Trader Joe's wines, they are clearly the best and the price is usually a huge bargain for the quality. This week, I found the Grand Reserve Merlot from the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley.
The Oak Knoll District is in the southernmost end of the Napa Valley floor, just north of the Town of Napa and south of Yountville. Being at the southern end, it is in closer proximity to San Pablo Bay, thus the cooling fog and breezes create a cooler, more moderate climate than regions to the north. The warm spring and cool summer result in a longer growing season. The Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from Oak Knoll are typically softer and silkier than from the northern regions.
Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Merlot Oak Knoll is a deep purple, rich blend of dark fruit, minerality and licorice flavors. The pleasure begins in the aroma and follows all the way to the long lasting finish. The tanins are soft but structured. I would not hesitate to pay much more for this wine and I am surprised that Trader Joe's does not market this as a Platinum Grand Reserve wine.
SC Wine Joe rating = 92 points