Home > Trader Joe's Wines, Value Wines, wine ratings > Trader Joe’s Wines – Again Exceeding Expectations

Trader Joe’s Wines – Again Exceeding Expectations

November 24, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

Every time I get in a close proximity of the Trader Joe’s stores which sell wine, I always have to go and check out what is happening there – and, of course, try some wines. This time it was in November in California.

I don’t get to visit the Trader Joe’s wine section all that often – yes, we have Trader Joe’s here in Connecticut, but the only type of alcohol the stores can sell here is beer. My last experience with the wine section in Trader Joe’s was about a year ago. This time, I thought that the selection of wines and hard liquors expanded quite a bit, even though it was rather substantial even before. This time I saw a number of large format bottles, including 3L Italian wine for about $20! More spirits, including Calvados for $19.99 (I challenge you to find a Calvados for such a price at any wine store you frequent). I don’t know how Trader Joe’s can do this, but this is pretty remarkable.

Usually, when you see a cheap bottle of wine, the thought is – is that any good? So clearly in the spirit of research, I willingly subjected myself to the scientific drinking experiment – what $20 can buy for you? Okay, I have to be honest with you – I spent more money. A whole $3 more. So the experiment should be officially called “What wine $23 can buy for you at Trader Joe’s”. You can see my tasting line up in the picture below, and the notes follow right after.

What $23 can buy you at Trader Joe's

What $23 can buy you at Trader Joe’s

And here are the notes:

2012 Cosmia Pinot Noir Sonoma County (13.5% ABV, $7.99) – ruby red in the glass, sweet cherries with a touch of smokiness on the nose, dark sweet cherries on the palate with some mushroom notes, round, simple, medium to long finish. Probably [one of] the best Pinot Noir wines the money can buy for $8. Drinkability: 7+

2013 Trader Joe’s Vinas Chilenas Chardonnay Reserva, Valle Central, Chile (13% ABV, $2.99) – light straw color in the glass, white apples, vanilla and touch of tropical fruit on the nose, crispy apple on the palate, vanilla, nice acidity, very round and balanced. Note that most of the notes are taken on the day number 4 after the bottle was opened – stored with the regular cork in the fridge. Pretty spectacular considering the price. Drinkability: 7+

2010 Cala de Poeti Maremma Toscana IGT, Italy (13% ABV, $5.99) – A super-Tuscan for $5.99, huh? Should be pretty laughable, you think? Not at all! Dark garnet color in the glass, nose of dark plums and herbs, dark cherries, eucalyptus, tart raspberries and dark chocolate on the palate, firm structure, still present tannins (on the day 4!), excellent balance. I’m duly impressed. Drinkability: 8-

2012 Black Mountain Vineyard Zinfandel, California (12.5% ABV, $5.99) – dark garnet color in the glass, gunpowder (!) and cherries on the nose (yep, I know, sorry), raspberries and blueberries on the palate, but not overly sweet, with balancing acidity, more of tobacco and gunpowder note on the palate (is that “too much sulfites”? No idea, the wine didn’t give me any adverse reaction). Quite an unusual rendition of Zinfandel, but very, very enjoyable. Drinkability: 7+

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That’s all I have for you for today. Have you tasted these Trader Joe’s wines? What do you think of them? What do you think about Trader Joe’s wines in general? Comment away! Cheers!

  1. November 24, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    I’m shocked, I had heard about what is it two buck chuck or something faring well in tastings but this really is spectacular, now I hope I can find a trader joes with wine because that is where I will buy it for my block association holiday party, Great post, great reviews, thank you.

    • talkavino
      November 24, 2013 at 12:30 pm

      Thanks, Suzanne – two buck chuck is quite drinkable and it is probably fine for the block party – some of the wines I find a bit too sweet for my taste. But these four wines I tried were really quite enjoyable.
      It might be problematic though to find the TJ’s with the wine section in the tri-state area – I know that TJ’s in Massachusetts sell wine, but I don’t know if you can find it anywhere closer…

      • November 24, 2013 at 12:34 pm

        Well that sucks, I guess I won’t be able to find wine at TJ’s in NYC. That would have been the perfect solution for our party, I donate the wine every year and spend quite a lot. Oh well, thanks Anatoli, loved your post.

        • talkavino
          November 24, 2013 at 12:36 pm

          Well, luckily, I’m wrong! TJ’s does sell wine in NYC : ) Here is the review for one of the stores in Manhattan: http://www.yelp.com/biz/trader-joes-new-york-6
          Have fun!

        • November 24, 2013 at 12:53 pm

          Oh wonderful, going there tomorrow. Thank you!

        • talkavino
          November 24, 2013 at 12:56 pm

          Enjoy and let me know what you think!

  2. November 24, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    I saw that Cosmia Pinot Noir right next to the $12.99 Trader Joe’s “Grand” Reserve Pinot Noir. I should have gone for the Cosmia – the TJ’s Reserve was very disappointing. I’ll check it out soon and report back!

    • talkavino
      November 24, 2013 at 2:50 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Robert! Will be interesting to compare notes!

  3. PSsquared
    November 24, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    I just had the Cosmia Pinot after tasting it there last week. It wasn’t bad at all. I think they do a pretty amazing job of offering a nice variety, at reasonable prices. I need to find out their employee discount policy, as that may be my retirement job. 🙂 And right now I’m enjoying their dark chocolate with a glass of my favorite Cab. Cheers!

    p.s. Suzanne, I’m not sure what the level of expectation is at your block party, but their boxes of Shiraz are really quite good, and would serve a lot of people, all while being easy to recycle.

  4. Fig & Quince
    November 24, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    Fantastic! I’m bookmarking this for immediate and future reference!

  5. November 25, 2013 at 7:58 am

    Trader’s and Whole foods don’t sell alcohol in Maryland! Disappointing……

    • talkavino
      November 25, 2013 at 8:06 am

      We have the same in Connecticut – food stores don’t sell wines, only beer. I saw Whole Foods selling wines in NJ, but I never got any to try.

  6. November 25, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    I am always hesitant to read your posts about Trader Joe’s wines since they are forbidden from carrying wine in PA. Yes, I am bitter!

    • talkavino
      November 25, 2013 at 3:58 pm

      same story in CT – they don’t sell wine in CT. But they do in New York : ) And I only experience them when traveling…

  7. November 25, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    I wish we had trader joes wine stores in CT!!! Not fair 😦

    • talkavino
      November 25, 2013 at 4:30 pm

      I know. The closest ones are in Massachusetts – if you ever there – take a look!

  8. November 25, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    I can’t seem to leave Trader Joe’s without at least a few bottles in hand. Thanks for the review of these – will definitely look for them in particular!

    • talkavino
      November 25, 2013 at 5:42 pm

      Absolutely! Let me know how will you like them.

  9. November 26, 2013 at 10:31 am

    Great minds. Just last week I was able to visit our new and only [so far] south Florida TJ’s. I of course left with a couple of bottles of wine that I hope to be writing about soon: Grifone Primitivo and Sangiovese Di Toscana D’Aquino.
    Thank you.

    • talkavino
      November 26, 2013 at 11:01 pm

      Looking forward reading your notes!

  10. January 28, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    I really like all of the Black Mountain wines from Trader Joes, they are surprisingly delicious!!

    • talkavino
      January 29, 2014 at 2:43 pm

      Trader Joe’s has an amazing amount of outstanding value wines!

  1. December 9, 2013 at 9:46 am
  2. December 10, 2013 at 9:14 am

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