Showing posts with label Trader Joe's. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Trader Joe's. Show all posts

Monday, April 28, 2014

Cheap Merlot As A Gift Wine

Gift wines are always appreciated at chez Now And Zin, even when they don’t bring allure, cachet or a hint of potential with them.  It is, truly, the thought that counts when it comes to gift wine.  That’s why there are so many Trader Joe’s locations.

The new neighbors brought over a bottle as a gift.  While it was a wonderful gesture, the wine demonstrated that either they don’t know much about wine, or they think I don’t.  It is the thought that counts, but I write about wine in this space, not good intentions.  So, after a hearty thanks to the neighbors, it’s time to swirl, sniff and sip a wine that hits right around the four dollar mark.

ForestVille Vineyards is one of the many tentacles of the Bronco Wine Company, the grape-stained conglomerate that seems to have a different label for every batch of grapes they harvest or buy.  Owner Fred Franzia is a wealthy man, thanks to his ability to make wines that are cheap and palatable.  He thinks a bottle of wine should never cost more than ten bucks, Chuck.  And most of his wines don’t cross that Mendoza line of perceived quality.

This one, under the ForestVille banner, blends Merlot, Petite Syrah and "mixed varietals" into a wine that hits 12.5%  abv on the alcohol meter.  I don't know if  "mixed varietals" indicates a field blend, inattention, an accident or grapes that were leftover in the crusher.  I was all ready to write that ForestVille Merlot's most distinguishing wine-like feature may be that it is bottled under natural cork.  I must admit, though, that it's actually not bad.  My wife thinks it's yummy.  She's right.  Still, Miles, from Sideways, would definitely not drink this f@#$%ing Merlot.

For those seeking out "cheap and palatable" wine, this hits the nail right on the head.  It falls into the vast chasm between "OK" and "good."  The fruit is full and ripe, but not complex.  The overdone oak effect really blunts the wine's value.  Acidity and tannic structure are both nice, however.  Although there are limitations here, the wine is actually a decent value considering that, at the price point, value is generally not a consideration.

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Trader Joe’s Wine Tasting

The new Trader Joe’s at 3rd and Fairfax in Los Angeles - right across from the Farmers Market - is now pouring wine tastings.  It's something I never see at the Trader Joe's stores I frequent.  They even have a little tasting bar in the back of the store.  I was told they will pour all day.  That’s the good news.

The bad news: it’s not really a very good tasting experience.  Kudos to them for the idea, but it isn’t really a good substitute for a trip to wine country.  The tastes are served in those little white paper cups in which they serve all their samples - about the size of the ones used to serve pills at the hospital.  There’s not a lot of swirling going on, and good luck getting your nose in there.

There’s no spit bucket, either - not that you have to worry too much about getting tipsy on that thimbleful of wine.  The crew member pouring for me offered a waste basket - half full of used paper napkins - in which I could expel the sip.  I did appreciate the thought, though.

Lastly, the wines being poured - there were two on the menu the day I popped in - aren’t exactly off the top shelf.  Five or six bucks can buy a decent wine at Trader Joe’s, but it has never changed my life.

Even if you don’t like the wines, you probably needed some peanuts or cheese or vanilla almond milk anyway.  There’s also the Mendocino Farms restaurant in that new shopping center, so the trip won’t be a total loss.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Louis Jadot Chardonnay Macon-Villages

Since the maison's founding in1859, Louis Jadot has been a well-respected name in Burgundy.  Producing a number of different Chardonnay wines - and red wine, of course - the house of Jadot is one of the largest wine producers in the region.

This white Burgundy wine is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes grown in the Mâcon-Villages area in Burgundy's Mâconnais region.  The alcohol level is 12.5% abv.  This wine was purchased at Trader Joe's for $12, if memory serves me.

The wine is colored very lightly in the glass.  There is a funky little nose unchilled, which is diminished only slightly when chilled.  Herbal, spicy aromas join a restrained citrus note in the bouquet.  This white Burgundy is clean and crisp on the palate, with a nice acidity and a somewhat tart taste of lemon zest that plays big on the palate and even bigger on the finish.  Did I mention the minerals?  They show up by the truckload, as the the chalky soil of the Mâconnais is on display.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Tres Pinos Three Pines Cuvee

I can spend more than five dollars on a bottle of wine if I like, and I feel fortunate that I can.  I do love a bargain, though.  That's why I find myself drawn to those discount wines at Trader Joe's so often.  I tell myself to keep moving, spend a little more.  But the lure of finding a good wine on the cheap is too great.  The sirens were singing my song again when I saw the Tres Pinos white. “Here's your five dollars.”  “Here's your wine.”

Tres Pinos Three Pines Cuvee is made by San Antonio Winery in Los Angeles.  They source their grapes from all over California, and the grapes for this wine came from San Luis Obispo County.  I like a lot of wines from SLO, so I had high hopes for this effort.

The grapes in question are Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay and Viognier.  That's a likely bunch of suspects for a good blend.  13.5% abv.

This white is the color of straw, and there's just a hint of effervescence upon pouring without refrigeration.  The second night the tiny little bubbles didn't appear when the wine was chilled.

I am often disappointed by the nose on cheap – er – inexpensive wines.  That is not the case here, as a beautiful bouquet of honeysuckle, apricot and cantaloupe rind appears.

The palate is not as fruity as I expected.  It's actually rather dry.  There is a subtle flavor of pear juice and a decent minerality – something I always love to find in those Edna Valley wines from San Luis Obispo County.  I'm intrigued by an almost savory edge, maybe guava.  The acidity is more than adequate for pairing light fare.  It's great with a handful of peanuts!

The various grapes used in Tres Pinos blend together nicely.  None of the four stand out too much.  I found it to be much better when chilled than not.  It's a serviceable wine that actually tastes pretty good.  And the price is certainly right.