The Wine: Firstly, what kind of grapes does a Meritage consist of? Isn’t it just another Red Wine? Not exactly. A quick glance at Wikipedia will tell you Meritage is a Bordeaux styled wine consisting only of grape varietals from that region of France. Secondly, wine makers must join an association called ‘The Meritage Alliance’ in order for their wines to carry the Meritage designation. And they take maintaining brand quality and consistency pretty serious. For you lawyer types or those interested in legal jargon and definitions, here’s a link to the contract wine makers must sign in order to carry the Meritage label. These are key indications that the juice inside these Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve bottles is going to be of a higher quality. And does this wine is just that, high quality!
During a Wine Crew tasting about a month ago, we paired the TJ’s Grand Reserve Meritage ($13) against a Sterling 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon ($20) and BV Georges de Latour 2006 ($90) with great results. Unanimously we all preferred the Meritage the most. It’s not that the other wines weren’t good, but this wine just beckons you for another glass since it’s so friendly and inviting to drink. I was recommending this wine to a customer in the market for a deal at about the $10 price point as a wine worth the extra $3 based on how he wanted to just enjoy a wine sans food; another customer dropped the comment behind us that this wine is amazing and pulled six bottles off the shelf for his cart. I don’t think I could have asked for a better deal closer; he took two.
The Experience: By just looking at this wine in a nice red wine glass lets you know you are going to like it; it shows such a deep ripe plum purple with hues of dark red velvet. The nose of this wine has got some depth and interesting tones to it. I was picking up cigar box, ceder, smoke, Irish peat, sea breeze, dark fruits, vanilla and really enjoyed it all. The palate delivers in a big way, too. Juicy dark berries which develops into jammy flavors then sour cherries finished by friendly tannins. I even picked up this faint lime peel flavor which was a nice addition. Returning to this wine after trying the dusty and tannic Sterling and Georges de Latour only highlighted this wine’s fruit and velvety texture.
The Bottom Line: Buy-A-Case: This wine brings reassuring faith in the quality Trader Joe’s can source for their private label selections. I’ve done the research on this label on the TTB’s website and found the origin of this wine; I think most people would be super impressed with this source. I’ve read a few blogs who have been critical of past TJ’s releases and I completely agree with some of the observations. Not all have been winners. That’s why I’m building this blog on my own time and very often my own dime. I enjoy the thrill of the hunt for great wines at steal prices. Personally, saving $20+ bucks tastes damn good to me. The Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve is one of those wines. Buy this wine before I get it all.
Question: Has anyone ever tried a very premium Meritage and tried this wine? I’d like to hear your thoughts and observations in the comments.
Bonus Dork Info
- Grape Varietals – 71% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot and 3% Malbec.
- Alcohol – 14.1%
- pH – 3.68
- SO2 – 96 ppm
- TA – 6.5 g/L
- RS – <5 g/L
- Fining Agent – None