Trader Joe’s has a mind boggling array of wines and they are constantly rotating in and out of their stock. As much as I like Two Buck Chuck, (aka Charles Shaw Wines or just Shaw now), they just aren’t all that great a wine. They lack flavor, depth and any that would resemble an interesting flavor profile. There is a saying that goes, “You get what you paid for”, I’m sure you’ve heard it and in a certain cost range, it can really help you buy a bottle of wine. While Trader Joe’s has it’s fair share of expensive wines, most of them are under $10 a bottle.
This wine comes from a winery called Appellation Trading Company which is a custom crush facility. They make California wines for other wineries or places like Trader Joe’s that want their own label on the bottle. It appears they are trying to clone a very popular wine from a winery called Pine Ridge and this wine is so popular it has it’s own website. Trader Joe’s not ever wanting to miss out on a trend, likely contacted ATC to make a clone of the Pine Ridge wine and sell it for much less. I’m sure Pine Ridge isn’t too happy, but you can’t trade mark a blend of grapes, no matter how weird it might seem.
The reason this is weird from a wine making perspective is that Chenin Blanc is from the cool, damp climates of the coastal Loire valley in France and typically needs cooler temperatures to make good grapes. Chenin has a very light profile and lower alcohols. Great with the seafood from the mouth of the Loire valley. On the other hand, Viognier is a white grape from the Rhone valley where it can get scorching hot in the summer. Viognier has a large profile. Very floral and fills your mouth with flavor. Alcohols on Viognier can get quite high.
This match would never be made in France and actually might be illegal there. But this is California where anything goes. I’m not sure if Pine Ridge was the first to do this blend in a big way, but it makes sense in California. I doubt these grapes came from the same vineyard or anywhere near each other. The wine has “California” on the label and it’s a big state with a lot of grapes so who knows, but the Chenin brings austerity and acid to the blend, the viognier brings some body and heft. You can taste the bracing acidity from the chenin and the floral richness of the viognier. It’s an almost completely dry wine with some glycerin from the viognier coming through.
I highly recommend this wine at $7.99. My wife and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I would stock up on this for the holidays because it would be great to serve with Turkey and or Ham.