We have a long ways to go in the 2011 Holiday season and there is still plenty of drinking to do!
Trader Joe’s has a lot of different wines under their own label. It’s a phenomenon to exclusive to them. Costco has their own wine labels also. It’s common practice in the wine business to buy up bulk wine and slap a label on it, like Two Buck Chuck and then there is the practice of having someone else make the wine for you on purpose and then you put your label on it. I’m pretty sure that this is what is going on here.
First let’s break this label down. Trader Joe’s. We all know Trader Joe’s doesn’t have their own winery, so someone else is making it for them. But how closely are the supervising the process. We’ll probably never know. “Grand Reserve” – is meaningless in the wine industry. You can slap “Grand Reserve” on any wine. There are no regulations around that term. In reality, most wineries use it for their best wines. Then comes the odd term “Meritage”. Meritage is the made up semi-French sounding term from something called the Meritage Alliance. The Meritage Alliance regulates the use of the word Meritage when it comes to wine. For Trader Joe’s to go that extra step is impressive. Also, Meritage is all about Bordeaux blends. So for a red wine that is a Meritage you must have some or all of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carmenere.
Next the label says “Napa Valley”, well that can be pretty impressive because grapes from Napa Valley are usually pretty darn expensive. Then it says “Red Wine” which by law has to be on labels that are a blend of grapes (Which is why the Meritage Alliance came about to promote Bordeaux style wines) Then the alcohol is 14.3% which is right in line for a Napa Valley wine.
Pouring it in the glass you know it’s a serious wine. It’s inky, dark plum colored. The first smell let me know that it was a complex blend of grapes (I couldn’t find the exact blend) with Cabernet Sauvignon dominant. Tasting it there was lots of dark fruit, and a long lingering finish with a nice bite of tannin that lets you know it will age well. There were flavors of dark cherries, dried blackberries a bit of earthiness, molasses and cigar box.
I was a bit surprised at the quality level of this wine. For Trader Joe’s to pull off a wine of this quality at $12.99 (in WA state) is impressive. They even had the wine in 1.5 liter magnums at my store for $19.99. I am running back to the store and buying a couple of bottles to lay down and see how they age cuz I think the wine could benefit from a couple more years in the bottle.
I am going to rate this one 9 bells and in wine ratings world, I would give it a 91 points. Run, don’t walk and pick up a few bottles!