January 25, 2011
2009, Castoro Cellars, Central Coast, Next-Wine-Please!, Trader Joe's Coastal, Under $5, Zinfandel
Trader Joe's Coastal 2009 Zinfandel
Recently in the San Francisco Chronicle, Jon Bonné, the Wine Editor, wrote about Zinfandel in his column. One of his praises of Zinfandel was its roots as The People’s Wine because of its long history in places like California as being one of the first grapes grown and turned into wine. However, the notion that Zinfandel is a People’s Wine is becoming a thing of the past with more Zinfandel bottles crossing the $40+ Rubicon. Today we are going to look at a wine which is certainly in the price range of most of The People, $4.
The Wine: A quick glance to the back label of Trader Joe’s 2009 Coastal Zinfandel reveals that this wine stems from the winery of Castoro Cellars, which is a winery we are going to re-visit on Saturday with their own Zin labeling. Unlike most of Trader Joes’ private label wines, we can clearly see where this wine comes from, no searching the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s website for clues. When I quickly compared the alcohol contents of the Castoro Cellars and Trader Joe’s offering, I see they are vastly different (Castoro 15%, TJ’s 13.9%), so I say with great confidence they are not the same wines. So how is this wine?
Color: You’ll find a plum hued purple presentation which is neither too dark nor too light, I believe this is what we call ‘medium’. Nice color, though.
Nose: Is that sulfur? Is that pickle juice? I’m pretty sure that smells a bit like fig. Or maybe is that a ficticous jam? Did someone put Charles Shaw in my glass? There weren’t many notable fragrances rising out of this juice which were getting me excited about this wine.
Palate: This is a flabby combination of red and darker fruit, digs, dates and really not much of any spice to entertain or beckon you for another taste. There is a minute level of tannins to dry your palate but that dissipates in a matter of two seconds and you’re left with a cheap wine aftertaste I would best describe as pickle juice’esque with flabby fruit tones.
Bottom Line: Next-Wine-Please!
I was really hoping to be writing about what I really felt was a People’s Wine worth raving about. I certainly am not looking for perfection, but I’d at least hope for more palatable nose and flavor profiles. For $1 more, you can buy a much better People’s Wine called Benefactor Cellars’ Red Wine. I really can’t get behind this wine beyond recommending it perhaps for passing around a campfire with a group of friends, after several bottles of better wine have been consumed – but you might as well break out the $2 stuff at that point…
Question: What do you consider to be The People’s Wine? And why?
Wine Dork Info:
- Price: $4
- Appellation: Central Coast, California
- Cellar: Castoro Cellars
- Alcohol: 13.9%
January 6, 2011
$5-$9 Price Point, 2009, Central Coast, Next-Wine-Please!, Pinot Noir, Saddlegrove, Trader Joe's Petit Reserve
Central Coast, Saddlegrove Cellars
The Wine: Denny’s diner had a jingle many years ago to advertise their Grand Slam Breakfast, “$1.99, are you outta your mind?!” Trader Joe’s is offering a Central Coast Pinot Noir for “$5.99, are you outta your mind?!” I’m curious how this wine is going to fair. Good Pinot Noirs are very often more costly wines. (You don’t see Two Buck Chuck offering a Pinot!) The grapes are sensitive on the vine, colors are hard to extract from the skin without creating a strong flavors in what should be a subtle wine, the fruit should be present but not too present and the list goes on… Read this Wine Dork Article for a better explanation and some great wine knowledge. After doing some research on this particular TJ’s offering, it seems to come from a very well established producer behind some big name labels around San Luis Obispo; so my hopes about the quality of this wine are building, but I have a $5.99 Pinot, I must be outta my mind…
The Experience: Upon pouring into my glass, I became concerned with a thin color laying somewhere between violet and red. OK, deep breath. How’s the nose? First sensation, oak; then alcohol, a light smokiness then on to a tangy sour cherry component which are all best described as faint, except for the oak and alcohol. But there is a stem/wood/dirt/hot rock component which is perplexing me and is about the only thing on the nose keeping me interested. It should be noted this wine is 95.2% Pinot Noir and 4.8% Souzão. Souzão is a Portuguese grape which has naturally high acidity and is widely known for its rich color – very often used in the production of port; no doubt Souzão was used to ‘pick-up’ this Pinot in both color and flavor. Wine Dorks, read more about Souzão here. There is little tannin or acid play on the palate and the finish is about as light as the color of this wine. *sigh*
The Bottom Line: Next-Wine-Please!
I’m just not very impressed with this wine. It’s OK wine, but not one I’d buy again. It’s cool that it has a ‘weird’ grape in it, but that’s simply lipstick to dress-up what is otherwise a lackluster wine. It lacks any clear direction and certainly doesn’t taste like some of the very nice Pinots I’ve had from around SLO. As for subtleties, I’m left searching for fruit in the palate and tannins are substituted with alcohol. If I had to pair this with a food, it’d be with white fish. If I had to give one positive remark, I liked the stem/wood/dirt/hot rock component on the nose. I guess I should have thought harder about that Denny’s jingle before buying… “$5.99, for a good Pinot, I am definitely out of my mind!”
Wine Dork Info:
- Cellar: “Saddlegrove” San Luis Obispo, CA
- Appellation: Central Coast
- Grape Varietals: 95.2% Pinot Noir, 4.8% Souzão
- Alcohol: 13.7%
- pH: 3.52
- SO2: 59 ppm
- TA: 5.64 g/L
- RS: <4 g/L
- Fining Agent: Sparkoid