Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Merlot Dry Creek Valley 2013

Trader Joe's previously saved their silver/gray colored labels for Grand Reserve wines that exceeded the quality of the black labeled Grand Reserve wines.  They priced these wines at $14.99 ($2 more than the black label Grand Reserve wines) and the label identified the wines as "Platinum Grand Reserve".  Although I was a big fan of the wines, they apparently were not a big hit with their customers.  I liked most of those wines and have even saved one for more than a year waiting for a special occasion to break it open. 

After about a year, Trader Joe's has now again started selling wines with that siver/gray label.  One of these is the Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Merlot Dry Creek Valley Sonoma County 2013.  What is different from a year ago, is that the label no longer says "Platinum" Grand Reserve and the price is $12.99 which is the same as the black label Grand Reserve wines.

Now, I know you could care less about the color of the label, the word "Platinum" or maybe not even the $2 price differential.  You read this blog to find out if the wine is any good.  Well, I hope this does not disappoint you, but the wine is not all that good.  It is not worth the $12.99 price and I hope that you read this before putting a bottle in your cart.  There is little fruit flavor and the limited flavor is mildly bitter.  There are some tannins but the finish is not long lasting or pleasant.

Although $12.99 is not a high price to pay for Sonoma County Merlot, it is at the higher end for Trader Joe's and that definitely enters into my numerical rating.

SC Wine Joe rating = 86 points

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Trader Joe's Platinum Reserve Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 2014

Trader Joe's has again released their Platinum Reserve Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County just in time for Thanksgiving.  Since they only produced 5000 cases of the wine, it will be available for only a limited time.

This is a quality Pinot Noir with flavors of cherry and dark cherry.  As I described last year, this is a wine best suited to accompany food and Thanksgiving Turkey or Ham quickly come to mind.  The wine has a very long, enjoyable finish.

This Pinot has 14.2% alcohol and sells for $14.99 at Trader Joe's.

SC Wine Joe rating = 90 points.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Kirkland Signature Napa County Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Each year, Costco sells the Kirkland Signature Napa County Cabernet Sauvignon and I never know what to expect.  I did not like the 2011 version, I liked the 2012 version very much, I was unimpressed with the 2013 and now the 2014 version is here.

A wine from Napa County is not a wine from Napa Valley.  Some of the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes may come from the northernmost portions of the county, outside of the Napa Valley AVA and will not be grown under the same climate and soil conditions as in Napa Valley.

The 2014 version has all of the good things missing last year.  The wine is rich and smooth with flavors of blackberry and plum, with hints of vanilla.  Oak is present but in balance.  The finish is pleasant and long lasting.  The wine has 14.6% alcohol and is priced at $12.99.  This excellent wine is much superior to the 2013.

SC Wine Joe rating = 90 points

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Cherry Blossom Pinot Noir Calfornia 2014

Trader Joe's now has the 2014 vintage of the Cherry Blossom Pinot Noir.  In April, I wrote that the 2013 Cherry Blossom Pinot Noir priced at $4.99 was one of the best wine values I had ever found, so I wanted to see if the new version is as good.

There is not much to be learned about this wine from the bottle.  The grapes come from somewhere in California, at least 75% of the grapes are Pinot Noir and the alcohol content is 13.5%.   The wine in the glass is a darker purple than usual for a Pinot Noir.

We found this to be an exceptionally enjoyable, easy drinking wine.  Because of the flavor and the color, I do not think this is 100% Pinot Noir.  You can drink this with or without food and the wine drinks far beyond what you would expect at this price.  You can serve this with your Holiday meals and your guests will not suspect that you paid so little.

This wine costs $4.99 at Trader Joe's locations in South Carolina but is only $3.99 in some other states.  I continue to believe this and the Emma Pearl Pinot Noir are the best values found at Trader Joe's.

SC Wine Joe rating = 89 points

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Chateau de Berne Impatience 2015

One of the wines included in the pre-thanksgiving sale at my local Costco is the Chateau de Berne Impatience 2015 Rose'.  Rose' has been making a huge comeback in recent years as wine drinkers recognize the difference between Rose' and white Zinfandel.  Rose' can be an excellent food wine to accompany seafood and poultry, especially roast turkey.

This wine is from the Cotes de Provence in southeastern France.   85% of the grape output from this Mediterranean coastal region west of Monaco goes into Rose' wines and they are considered as some of the best in the world.

This wine is a salmon pink color with bright floral aromas.  The wine has dry, crisp flavors of raspberry and strawberry.  The wine is 70% Grenache and 30% Cinsault.  The wine has 13% alcohol.  I like the wine and recently purchased more at the sale price.

The average online price for this wine is around $19 and the sale price at Costco was $12.79.

SC Wine Joe rating = 89 points

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Montes Classic Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

The current wine sale at my local Costco (Greenville SC) includes the Montes Classic Series 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon (on sale for $6.99).  A few years ago, I bought Montes Classic Cabernet Sauvignon on a regular basis and found it to be a great wine for a moderate price.  However, the more recent vintages have not lived up to my expectations and I found better value elsewhere.  When I found this wine at this low price, I had to give it another try.

Montes Classic Series Cabernet Sauvignon comes from the Colchagua Valley of Chile.  This region is the southwestern half of the Rapel Valley, east of the coastal mountains and west of the Andes Mountains.  It is a region with a Mediterranean climate that has a cooling influence from the Pacific Ocean.  World class Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere and Syrah are grown in this valley.

This wine is composed of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot.  45% of the wine is aged in French oak barrels for 8 months.  The wine has an alcohol content of 13.5%.

I initially bought 2 bottles of this wine.  The first was terrific, especially after it was opened for an hour.  It reminded me why I used to buy this wine regularly.  The second bottle was very different and reminded me why I stopped buying this wine.  I could not write something about the wine on this blog since the two bottles were so different.  The only thing I could do was go buy some more!  After careful research, I have concluded that the first bottle is the best representative of this wine and I can recommend it to you.  The description below is based on that research.  My research assistant, aka Cindy, agrees with my conclusions.

When I first opened the bottle, I could detect the aroma from a foot away.  I knew I would enjoy the wine.  The flavors were black cherry, blackberry and a hint of vanilla.  The finish was reasonably smooth and long lasting.  I like it and will continue to buy this wine on sale for $6.99 and will likely buy it after the sale for an additional $2. 

SC Wine Joe rating = 89 points

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Montecillo Rioja Reserva 2010

My local Costco is now having their pre-Thanksgiving wine sale.  There are three wines in this sale that interest me, including the Montecillo Rioja Reserva 2010, which is reduced two dollars to $8.99.

The Rioja region in northern Spain classifies wines as Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva in ascending order.  Many wine drinkers find Reserva to be more complex than Crianza but far more affordable than Gran Reserva.  A Reserva Rioja must be aged 3 years, with at least one year in oak casks.

Montecillo Rioja Reserva is 100% Tempranillo, with all grapes coming from La Rioja Alta.  The wine is actually aged in oak casks for 24 months and at least 16 months in the bottle prior to its release.

I found flavors of black fruit, plum, licorice and minerals in the wine.  The 13.4% alcohol is in good balance with the fruit and the finish is long lasting.  This wine will nicely accompany barbeque or roasts.  This is a nice wine, especially for $8.99.

SC Wine Joe rating = 89 points.