I have a pretty long history with wine and Trader Joe’s. I started this blog in its first form way back in 2008 on Blogger. A few years later, I moved everything over to WordPress and that’s where I’ve been for 11 years. Back then I was in the wine industry working at a local winery here in Washington state and had two toddlers running around. I was in learning mode when it came to all things wine and was always looking out for cheap good wine and of course, was constantly shopping at Trader Joe’s back then trying to feed the kids.
Somewhere around this time the Charles Shaw explosion happened and blew the wine world apart because of the very cheap wine you could buy at Trader Joe’s. Back then Charles Shaw was mostly leftovers and bulk wine that Trader Joe’s bought on the open market and could slap their label on and sometimes you got a great deal on wine but you might have to go through a couple of bottles because it changed constantly, but when you found a good batch it was like magic.
Around this time, Trader Joe’s expanded their own name onto wine labels. One of those was the Trader Joe’s Coastal label.
What is Trader Joe’s Coastal Wine?
Trader Joe’s slaps the “Coastal” label on quite a few wines, so what does that mean? For the most part, it means that these wines were grown in the Central Coast AVA (American Viticultural Area) which is a huge region (see the map above). It goes for over 300 miles between San Francisco and Santa Barbara, with a wide variety of climates and soils that have a great influence on wine styles, but generally, it’s cooler here than further inland in the Central Valley so the wines tend to be more delicate and crisp because it’s near the Pacific Ocean.
Trader Joe’s has used a variety of wineries over the years for their Coastal Label and this time they are using a winery called Castoro Cellars. Castoro Cellars is located in San Miguel, CA according to the label, but if you look at the website for Castoro it says Templeton, CA which is just up the road. They probably make a lot of wine for Trader Joe’s so they probably need a huge winery to make all that wine. They make several of the Coastal wines for TJs and have been doing it for several years.
How does Trader Joe’s Coastal Chardonnay Taste?
There are some clues on the back label for this wine. It says on the label that it is “unoaked” which means it was stored for a while in stainless steel and not oak. Oak can impart a vanilla-type flavor from the barrels. It’s not to everyone’s preference but it is a style that has a lot of followers. Super oaky Chardonnay is a California thing but not really my cup of tea so I am glad to see no oak barrels here.
Then they also mention “melon and peach notes on a crisp clean finish”. When I smelled and tasted it, I definitely got some of that but it was not overly aromatic. There is about 13% alcohol in this wine which is in the sweet spot. I like to drink wine, not get drunk on it.
When I swirled it around my mouth, I could feel the acid and it had a pretty good mouthfeel. But, when I swallowed it the flavors I expected were muted. You can tell that in the vineyard they are growing more grapes per acre than other high-quality wines. This dilutes the flavors.
All in all, it was a pleasant wine. I think I paid $7.99 a bottle but that will vary depending on the state due to taxes. I think there are better wines in under $10 a bottle of wine that Trader Joe’s sells.
Wine is a very personal choice and something you and I like doesn’t mean anyone else will like it. If you want a decent dry white wine without a lot of complications, this is a good choice.