Home > Rosé, Syrah, Trader Joe's Wines, wine stores, Wine Tasting, Zinfandel > Another “How Do They Do It?” Set of Trader Joe’s Wines

Another “How Do They Do It?” Set of Trader Joe’s Wines

Trader Joe wines San DiegoOn the multiple occasions, I wrote about Trader Joe’s wines in this blog. I generally only can taste them when I travel, as Trader Joe’s stores in Connecticut can’t sell wine. Thus if I’m in the close proximity of the Trader Joe’s store, and schedule allows, I always make an effort to taste something new.

While Trader Joe’s wine selection generally includes wines at the different price levels, my focus is always on the most inexpensive wines. The rationale is simple – at $9.99 and above, there is a great selection of wines in my neighborhood wine store. At the same time, there is practically nothing in the $4.99  – $6.99 price range, thus it is very interesting how good (or how bad) such wines can be.

In general, I can’t complain about Trader Joe’s wines. My typical “success rate” is somewhat of the 3 out of 4 ratio – if I would taste 4 wines, at least 3 of them would be at “I want to drink it again” level. But this time, while in San Diego, California, I was simply blown away – 6 out of 6, 3 wines at $4.99 and 3 at $5.99, where perfectly drinkable wines which I would gladly drink again on any day! This was definitely a “how do they do it???” moment, as I would never expect, for instance, Rosé or Zinfandel from California to have such a QPR, to taste as good as they did considering the amount of money I had to pay for them.

Without further ado, let me present to you my 6 out of 6 set of “how do they do it?” wines from Trader Joe’s.

2012 Pancake Cellars Big Day White Paso Robles, California (13.5% ABV, $4.99, 37% Chardonnay, 23% Sauvignon Blanc, 15% Viognier, 15% Pinot Blanc, 10% Muscat Canelli) – I can only guess this is modeled after the Conundrum, only this wine I actually enjoyed (and it costs 1/4 of the Conundrum)! Very nice and refreshing nose of white fruit with herbal undertones. On the palate, nice, round, good acidity, white fruit, white apples, very good balance. While not the most complex, definitely very enjoyable! Drinkability: 7+/8-

2013 Rabbit Ridge Allure de Robles Rosé Paso Robles, California (13.5% ABV, $4.99, Mourvedre 49%, Grenache 26%, Syrah 25%) – you can safely assume that I had zero expectations opening a bottle of Rhone-style Rosé from California which cost $4.99. Boy, was I wrong. The wine was simply outstanding – bright, cheerful, full of strawberries and cranberries, perfect acidity – get it by the case to make your summer days super enjoyable. Drinkability: 8-

2013 J.L. Quinson Cotes de Provence AOP (12.5% ABV, $5.99) – same as the one above, zero expectations for Provence Rosé for $5.99 – sorry, the internal snob is speaking. First sniff and sip – wow, I’m convinced. Perfectly restrained, mineral, light, refreshing acidity – as classic as Provençal Rosé gets, only at half price or even less, depending on the bottle. Another case buy for the summer, in case you need my recommendation. Drinkability: 7+

2012 Oreana Wines Project Happiness Syrah California (13.5% ABV, $5.99) – see the happy face on the label? This is what this wine is – happy. No, this is not the most thought provoking Syrah you can drink, but it is simple, easy to drink, round and balanced, good fruit on the palate, a tiny bit of pepper. Throw in a little barbequed meat – and your face might look exactly as the one on the label. Drinkability: 7

2011 Symington Family Estate Tuella Douro DOC, Portugal (13.5% ABV, $5.99) – Douro wines are slowly but surely gaining their international reputation, so this is definitely a good deal of a very solid wine which you can also age. It was showing a little tight, with reserved fruit expression, but good overall balance and acidity. At this price, if you got some space in the cellar, forget a few bottles there – you might thank me in a 3-4 years. Drinkability: 7

2012 Trader Joe’s Grower’s Reserve Zinfandel Paso Robles (13.5% ABV, %4.99) – the first smell exhorts the “wow”. Good Zinfandel at $4.99 didn’t sound to me even as a remote possibility. And then this Grower’s reserve comes in – perfectly open, with clean smokey raspberries and blackberries, very round fruit expression on the palate, with the same smokey berries being very present and well matching the nose – the QPR on this wine simply goes through the roof. No, this wine doesn’t have the richness of Turley or Carlisle, but then you don’t need to cellar it for 10 years before you can really enjoy it. If you like Zinfandel – this is definitely the wine you have to experience. Drinkability: 7+/8-

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I tip my hat to whomever is responsible for sourcing the wines for Trader Joe’s stores – to say “well done” is almost to say nothing – great job, and please keep doing it over and over again, to the delight of all the wine lovers out there. Cheers!

  1. May 23, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    Thank you for the wine tips. I know that you will not steer anyone wrong on a bottle of wine.

    • talkavino
      May 23, 2014 at 4:05 pm

      Thanks, John! I’m trying!

  2. Antisocial Patty
    May 23, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    I’m glad you get to enjoy TJ’s wine once in a while. It’s such an awesome thing. Cheers!

    • talkavino
      May 23, 2014 at 4:05 pm

      yes, and very impressive. By the way, do they carry any Arizona wines in the Arizona stores?

      • Antisocial Patty
        May 23, 2014 at 4:29 pm

        I don’t think so, but E is stopping there on his way home, so I asked him to check. I’ll let you know. 🙂

      • Antisocial Patty
        May 23, 2014 at 4:39 pm

        He says just one, a red blend from http://www.azstronghold.com/, which is probably the best known, along with https://caduceus.org/. Hopefully they’ll get more in there. But AZ wines aren’t even very common in restaurants yet, either.

        • talkavino
          May 23, 2014 at 5:00 pm


  3. May 23, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    Thanks for the insight. I never dare buy anything at those prices, with the presumption it can’t possibly be any good (I have that same internal snob whispering in my ear!), but there are a few on the list I might now slip into the shopping cart next time I pick up some groceries and give them a try 🙂

    • talkavino
      May 23, 2014 at 11:02 pm

      Give them a try and let me know. Definitely worth a little experiment.

  4. May 23, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    Gotta love a good wine for a reasonable price!

    • talkavino
      May 23, 2014 at 11:01 pm

      Absolutely! especially, when it tastes good.

  5. May 24, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    Great timing! I have some things to pick up at TJs this afternoon! I’ll be sure to check some of these out.

    • talkavino
      May 24, 2014 at 4:04 pm

      Great! If you will find of these, would love to know your opinion!

      • May 25, 2014 at 4:47 pm

        I was able to find the Pancake white blend and the Grower’s Reserve Zin. I saw the shelf tag for the Oreanas, but they were out of stock. I’ll let you know what we think!

        • talkavino
          May 25, 2014 at 5:15 pm

          Great! Please do!

  6. May 25, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    I have yet to try TJ’s wine, just don’t get into Manhattan that often, Next time I will make of point of going there based on your most excellent recommendation.

    • talkavino
      May 25, 2014 at 12:39 pm

      Thanks, Suzanne. Yes, this is not the most convenient trip through the whole town, especially considering that you would plan to buy the wine. Might need to get some wine luggage with roller blades, so it will will be easier to move around…

      • May 25, 2014 at 12:41 pm

        Exactly and taking multiple bottles on the subway is not fun. I will go there on a holiday weekend when teains are not do crowded.

  7. james
    May 2, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    Rabbit Ridge is able to create good deals for under $10, because they don’t pay their growers for the fruit that they source. Bad business people

    • talkavino
      May 2, 2015 at 2:02 pm

      Hmmm, that is not good. If they have such a reputation in the industry, why anyone work with them?

  1. June 6, 2014 at 9:05 am

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