It has been a while since I did a review of Trader Joe's wine offerings. Excited to see what 'spring picks' I could get for circa $10 / bottle I headed off to the New York City store. Overall I was pretty happy with my findings! Here are seven great spring wines, each for a very budget-friendly price. (There's even a print-out guide to take to the store with you!)
I probably could have managed my timing better. Friday afternoon around 5 p.m. is probably not the quietest time to browse Trader Joe's. Well, at least it was busy — which is a good thing — people are still buying wine. Despite the crowd it was pretty easy to navigate the aisles with my cart, so no complaints really, and the check-out line did move quite quickly.
In terms of selection, there was a lot of variety on offer from most of the winemaking countries around the world, though I did not spot anything from Greece or Hungary, two favorites of mine.
Though there were lots of offerings around the $4 to $5 mark, I edged upwards toward my max, choosing wines between $8 and $10 (plus one at $5.99 that I could not resist) — as I hoped to max my quality to value ratio. I spotted some brands that I had tasted and reviewed before — but it is good to see that these wines are still popular.
Perusing the aisles, I finally selected seven wines and headed to the checkout — proud of my selection and the value I was hoping to get. However, there was a little sting in the tail. I was charged $19.50 to deliver the wines, which added over $3 to each bottle purchased. I asked whether if I bought more either in volume or value would the delivery charge be waived. Not so, I was told. To be honest, for what I was buying, I could not really complain, but I think I would have been a tad miffed if I had bought over $100 worth or a full case of 12 wines. Maybe that is something they should review.
Anyway, on we go to the tasting. As I mentioned I chose well - and I was more than happy with my selection.
White Wines2009 Blason de Bourgogne Saint-Veran, Burgundy, France, $8.99 - Mid gold color. Aromas of ripe, yellow and tropical fruit - Mirabelle plums, pineapple, apricot pith, with a touch of bay/laurel herbal spice. Crisp, juicy and slightly fleshy with a moderate intensity warming earthy flavors. Slightly short on the finish but a perfectly suitable easy-drinking week night wine.
2010 Epicuro Vermentino, DOC Lazio, Italy $5.99 - Attractive mineral notes on the nose alongside aromas of ripe stone fruit, exotic citrus and a touch of sage. Refreshing and quite mouth-filling. Ample bright fruit flavors that mirrored the nose. Succulent texture and minerality followed through. Medium bodied and moderately long finish. Pretty good really and probably the best value at less than $6.
2011 Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc-Viognier, California, $9.99 - A blend of 79% Chenin and 21% Viognier. Youthful Pale lemony color and intense zesty aromas of citrus - lemon and lime, ripe peach and floral notes. Spritzy and very juicy with sufficient bright, tangy citrus and stone fruit flavors. A whisper of sweetness of the finish. Light-bodied. Perfect for an apéritif, picnic or spring/summer lunch.
Rosé Wine2011 Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé, WO Coastal Region, South Africa, $7.99 - Sock-eye salmon color with coppery glints. Aromas of ripe red currents, strawberry compote and wild raspberry. Crisp, juicy with tangy red fruit flavors with good intensity and depth on the palate. Nicely persistent with a juicy finish. Bring on the barbecue please!
Red Wines2009 Pasqua Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore, Veneto, Italy, $8.99 - Crimson color. Aromas of sweet and sour cherry, warm earth and woodsy underbrush. Grippy tannins but sufficient fleshy ripe black fruit to balance. Round, warming mouth-feel. Moderate length with a tangy, earthy finish. Good with steak, ribs, or pasta with a Bolognese sauce.
2010 Barkan Classic Merlot, Galil, Israel, $9.99 - Mid ruby color, appealing nose of ripe plummy fruit, tobacco leaf with hints of mocha, spice and smoke. Smooth tannins, moderate intensity of bright juicy red and black plummy and ripe berry fruit. Gentle, smooth tannins, round creamy mouth-feel. Moderate finish. Modern, fresh, fruity - an easy red to sip on its own or enjoy at the table with roasted vegetables, duck breast with a fruity glaze, or even paella.
2009 Il Tarocco Chianti Classico, Tuscany, Italy $9.99 - Bright ruby color. Earthy, savory aromas, well-worn leather, black cherry and clove. Refreshing with sandy tannins that have a fairly good grip, adding structure. Packed with bright juicy black fruit, nicely fleshy and a moderately long finish. Well balanced. Perfect with pizza, pasta with a tomato based sauce or grilled steak.
I would love to hear what gems readers are finding lately at Trader Joe's wine stores.
Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW (Master of Wine), is a New York based wine educator, freelance writer and consultant.
• 2009 Blason de Bourgogne Saint-Veran, Burgundy, France, $8.99
• 2010 Epicuro Vermentino, DOC Lazio, Italy $5.99
• 2011 Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc-Viognier, California, $9.99
• 2011 Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé, WO Coastal Region, South Africa, $7.99
• 2009 Pasqua Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore, Veneto, Italy, $8.99
• 2010 Barkan Classic Merlot, Galil, Israel, $9.99
• 2009 Il Tarocco Chianti Classico, Tuscany, Italy $9.99
Previous Trader Joe's Wine Recommendations
• Holiday Party Wines: $10 and Less from Trader Joe's
• Supermarket Wines Review: Top Wine Picks from Trader Joe's Wine Store in New York City
• Good Wines at Trader Joe's: Cheerful Summer Wine Picks
• Bargain Summer Red Wines from Trader Joe's
(Images: Wine producers; Mary Gorman-McAdams)