Tag Archive for Trader Joe’s

Review: 2014 Trader Joe’s Coastal Sauvignon Blanc

I find myself saying this more often than not to my friends who buy two-buck chuck, which is actually three-buck chuck, spend the extra $1.49 and just get a Trader Joe’s Coastal wine instead.

The Coastal brand never seems to disappoint for $4.49. The Sauvignon Blanc smells and tastes like a traditional Sauvignon Blanc: You’ve got your grassy, tropical fruit scent and your crisp, citrus taste. This wine will leave a bubbly feeling on your tongue as you taste the subtle lime and pear and green apples. It’s just a fresh wine, perfect for a lazy summer night.

Looking for a cheap find? TJ's Coastal brand is always solid

A photo posted by Wine For The Win (@wineforthewin) on

Trader Joe’s doesn’t have a winery, really. The Coastal brand is bottled and vinted by Castoro Cellars, a well-liked winery in Paso Robles (I say that based on their Yelp review; I haven’t visited myself). Trader Joe’s puts its name on the bottle, but Castoro does the work, getting the grapes from throughout the Central Coast.

Nuts & Bolts:

Winery: Trader Joe’s Coastal
Type: Sauvignon Blanc
Origin: Central Coast
Vintage: 2014
Price: $4.49
Alcohol content: 13%
When to drink: No need to drink this with dinner! Pop open a bottle on a hot, summer night (but then keep it in a cooler to stay chilled!) and enjoy a moment on the porch, or in your yard, or wherever you can see some nature. Alternatively, pop this baby open while watching the latest Bridget Jones movie or whatever so-bad-it’s-good movie you are craving.

Review: 2012 Gaetano d’Aquino Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie

This Italian Pinot Grigio is dry with a tangy aftertaste. An apple flavor dominates here. Did I like it? Well, better said perhaps that I didn’t hate it. It was OK.

The 2012 Gaetano D’Aquino Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie is a very cheap Pinot Grigio from Trader Joe’s, so that’s a plus. It’s a fruity, non-demanding easy drinker.

 

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Nuts & Bolts:

  • Winery: Gaetano D’Aquino 
  • Type: Pinot Grigio
  • Origin: Italy
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $3.99
  • Alcohol content: 12%
  • When to drink: Don’t think I’d buy this again, so I can’t recommend a situation when to drink it.

Review: 2013 Les Portes de Bordeaux Savignon Blanc

I was tired of not having white wine in the fridge when I was hankering for a refreshing sip on a hot summer night, so I went to Trader Joe’s and stacked up on whites.

I picked up this Les Portes de Bordeaux Savignon Blanc that I hadn’t tried before. Savignon Blanc, in my mind, evokes memories of a wine that is usually crisp, citrusy, melony, sometimes grassy, and dry. This one was citrusy, but more in the grapefruit-camp, kind of like a Viognier. It was really tangy, like in your face tangy, and that caught me off guard.

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To me it smelled like Pine Sol and to my drinking partner it smelled like white grape juice, so there wasn’t a lot of depth here. It did have some acidity, which gave it a redeeming bubbliness, but I wouldn’t buy it again.

Nuts & Bolts:

  • Winery: Les Portes de Bordeaux
  • Type: Savignon Blanc
  • Origin: Bordeaux, France
  • Vintage: 2013
  • Price: $4.99
  • Alcohol content: 12%
  • When to drink: I’d skip this bottle if you’re wandering through Trader Joe’s.

Review: 2013 J.L. Quinson Cotes de Provence Rose

I experimented a bit with this wine. I had brought a pretty good roe from Trader Joe’s, 2013 La Ferme Julien Rose, to a picnic–mostly because it was hot and I thought a rose would be refreshing and because it has a screwtop, which is perfect for al fresco drinking. My friend brought the 2013 J.L. Quinson Cotes de Provence Rose and mentioned that while browsing the wine aisles at Trader Joe’s, she came across both wines, but landed on the latter.

In light of this lovely coincidence, we sipped from both bottles, comparing the two.

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The Cotes de Provence, with its salmon color in the glass, smells like strawberry and is much drier than the La Ferme Julien Rose. To me, it tasted like light grape skins–it’s not too fruity– but it had a nice pep to it due to the acidity. It also wasn’t too flabby, a refreshing characteristic for a cheap rose.

Overall, I prefer the La Ferme Julien, but you can’t go wrong with either one on a hot summer day (they are both the same price).You can see my review for that wine in a previous post.

Nuts & Bolts:

  • Winery: J.L. Quinson
  • Type: Rose
  • Origin: France
  • Vintage: 2013
  • Price: $5.99
  • Alcohol content: 12.5%
  • When to drink: On a hot summer day, al fresco, while discussing vacations abroad or daydreaming about crystal clear waters off the coast of Croatia.

Review: 2012 La Ferme Julien Rose

Simple, but good. Those were the first words out of my mouth when I sipped the 2012 La Ferme Julien Rose while watching “True Detective” and twirling some spaghetti squash with pesto and peas onto my fork earlier this week.

It was such an easy-drinker I had to refrain myself from finishing more than half the bottle on my own. I believe my other half was skipping out on wine that night because he had to work late into the evening. The kind, generous fiancee I am, I twisted back the screw top and put some of this dry, fruity rose back in the fridge so he could enjoy it, too.

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And enjoy it he did. The next night we finished off the bottle I picked up at Trader Joe’s.

Grapes for La Ferme are grown on vines that sit atop the slopes of Mont-Ventoux in the Rhone Valley in France by the Perrin family. The Perrins are known for their Roussannes as well as their collaboration with Tablas Creek in Paso Robles.

This cherry blossom pink wine doesn’t smell like much at first, but the aromas come in the longer it’s out. It has strawberry flavors in there, but most of the fruitiness is muted. It’s dry, but not too dry. On a 1 to 10 scale of dryness, with 1 being really, really dry, I’d give this a 4. There’s not a leathery feeling on the tongue, in fact the wine is pretty refreshing. Some may call it watery, but I disagree. I think it has just the right amount of lightness. It’s cool and refreshing.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: La Ferme Julien
  • Type: Rose
  • Origin: Rhone Valley, France 
  • Price: $5.99
  • Alcohol content: 13.5%
  • When to drink: On a hot, hot summer day, possibly while switching off from lounging in a beach chair to hitting a slip and slide.

Oscars and 2012 Moderna Symphony

Our annual Oscar party, which we pair with a signature red carpet cocktail, was a hit, and so was the cocktail, but after we finished a bottle of Bulleit bourbon, we moved on to the liquid treats brought by our guests.

One such gift, was a bottle of 2012 Moderna Chardonnay. It was a light, peachy sweet wine.

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Not my favorite, but it improved when jokes from Ellen DeGeneres, whom I like to call Duchess D, kept my mind off the sugary flavors.

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I don’t think I’d purchase this wine on my own, but if you like saccharine white Chardonnays this is up your alley.

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Nuts & Bolts:

  • Winery: Moderna
  • Type: White blend
  • Origin: California
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: gift
  • Alcohol content: 11.5%
  • When to drink: Cougars who enjoy sweet white wine will enjoy this libation with a side of gossip.

And if you’re wondering what that delicious cocktail had in it, here’s how I made it:

1) Place two to three thawed frozen strawberries (depending on size) in a fancy glass with two to three ice cubes.

2) Toss a shot of Bulleit Bourbon in there. Put three times as much Sparkling Clementine Flavored Juice from Trader Joe’s. Stir and enjoy.

Review: 2011 Cocobon Red Wine Blend

For some reason, whenever I say Cocobon it makes me think of big band music, dancers with big feather headdresses, Miami Beach in the 1960s and that scene in “The Mask” when Jim Carrey does a crazy dance number. Remember that one? If not, here’s a refresher:

The 2011 Cocobon, sold at Trader Joe’s, is a stand-up red blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Petit Syrah.

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Apologize for the blurriness, but that’s what happens when you stand in the main artery of the kitchen at a party. You get bumped, run into someone you want to talk to and then forget that you took a crappy photo until it’s too late.

It’s lusciously smooth with a vanilla essence. I usually enjoy spicier, bold reds, but I liked this sweet blend with its caramel and dark cherry flavors. The wine doesn’t linger too long on your tongue after a gulp, which makes you want to sip pretty quickly, a dangerous situation.

Although Cocobon is one of Trader Joe’s best sellers, I enjoyed it for the first time at a Christmas party, fit with views of downtown Los Angeles skylines and what I’ve dubbed the #millenialtree.

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Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Cocobon
  • Type: Red blend (Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Petit Syrah)
  • Origin: California
  • Vintage: 2011
  • Price: $8
  • Alcohol content: 12.5%
  • When to drink: On a rooftop deck with views of downtown Los Angeles, or Miami Beach, I’m not picky 😉

Review: 2010 Terrenal Cabernet Sauvignon; Kosher Wine

My dad is what I like to call a cafeteria Jew. He picks and chooses what he wants to follow. Same goes for how kosher he is. He’ll eat lobster, but when it comes to wine, he’ll only buy kosher wine.

Celebrating Hanukah at my parent’s house, he brought out his favorite Kosher wine: Terrenal’s Cabernet Sauvignon.

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It’s a simple, dry Cabernet Sauvignon. I tasted a bitter grapefruit flavor, but I was the only one. Other guests described it as a tart berry. Not overly special, but great quality for the price. It’s not bad for $3.99 at Trader Joe’s! Speaking of under $5 wines, it beats the Green Fin.

So what makes a wine kosher?

According to Wine Spectator:

Kosher wine is made just like other table wine, with an extra set of rules to make it consistent with Jewish dietary law. In order for a wine to be deemed kosher (Yiddish for “proper” or “fit”), it must be made under the supervision of a rabbi. The wine must contain only kosher ingredients (including yeast and fining agents), and it must be processed using equipment rabbinically certified to make kosher wines. No preservatives or artificial colors may be added. The wine can only be handled — from the vine to the wineglass — by Sabbath-observant Jews, unless the wine is mevushal.

Mevushal wines, unlike ordinary kosher wines, can be handled and served by non-Jews. To be considered mevushal, a wine must be heated to 185 degrees F.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Terrenal
  • Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Origin: Yecla, Spain
  • Vintage: 2010
  • Price: $3.99
  • Alcohol content: 13.5%
  • When to drink: When you’re off to a Passover Seder, be thoughtful and bring along this Kosher for Passover wine.

Review: 2012 Velvet Moon Cabernet Sauvignon

This is another Friendsgiving wine, because what makes Friendgiving better than regular Thanksgiving? You get drunk with your friends because you’re having fun, rather than getting drunk with your family to forget the dysfunction.

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The 2012 Velvet Moon Cabernet Sauvignon, like the name, is smooth throughout. It is sweeter than most Cabs I’ve had, but that’s not a bad thing. A caramel flavor takes over after the initial tart cherry floats away when the wine breathes for a bit. It’s a good Cab for the price–if you’re a fan of smooth over bold– and can be found at Trader Joe’s.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Velvet Moon
  • Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Origin: Manteca, Calif.
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $6
  • Alcohol content: 13%
  • When to drink: When you’re with a traditional white wine drinker who wants to venture into a red for the evening.

Review: 2012 Green Fin Red Table Wine

At a Friendsgiving dinner this weekend, I was told that the Green Fin Red Table Wine from Trader Joe’s would be the best under $5 wine I’ve ever had.

This red blend is pretty simple. It’s drinkable, but not great. It’s got tart berry and a hint of vanilla, but not much else and the bottle doesn’t let you know what kind of red grapes were used to make the blend. Can I think of a better under $5 wine that I’ve had? Not off the top of my head, but if I did an under $5 wine tasting night (party idea!), I think this would come in with the middle of the pack.

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An interesting notable about this blend: it’s certified organic by CCOF, a USDA-accredited certifier. According to CCOF:

Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic food is produced without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, sewage sludge, bioengineering (GMOs),  or ionizing radiation.

Another interesting fact: Green Fin is a brand from the makers of Franzia, the boxed wine best known as the staple of sorority mixers.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Green Fin
  • Type: Red blend
  • Origin: Madera, Calif.
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $3.99
  • Alcohol content: 12%
  • When to drink: This cheap red blend would be great for sipping around a bonfire before snuggling up in a sleeping bag for a night of camping in the crisp outdoors.