Here is the year-end wine round-up you have all been waiting for! Because I have such a glamorous job working at Trader Joe's in Northern California, people are constantly asking me for recommendations of the cheap yet good wines. Yes, I have wallowed through the muck and mire and found a few treasures which I will share with you. And no, Charles Shaw is not on this list. All of these wines should be available now (at least in No. CA.) and most of these wines can only be found only at Trader Joe's.
The ones to try:
Tier 1 - aka as my favorites
*Rias Baixas Albarino 2006 Good minerality, good fruit. Refreshing acidity. $7.99
*Chiuso Grande 2006 Tommolo Montepulciano d'Abruzzo – This is an organically- produced "rustic" full-bodied, red. Good pizza wine but just as good on its own. $4.99
*Trader Joe's Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 $10.99- balanced and smooth, don't miss it before it's gone. And avoid the TJ Reserve 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon. NOT good.
*Sogrape Callabriga Dao 2005 (Number 57 on Wine Spectator's Top 100 of 2008). This Portuguese stunner is worth more than it's 8.99 price tag. Run to Trader Joe's now...
Okay, the next two wines are a little over $10 but well worth it:
*Chateau Chevalier 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Spring Mountain District Napa Valley – This is a steal @14.99. This comes from the Spring Mountain Winery in St. Helena and sells for around $50 at the winery. If you are not running to get the Callabriga Dao then you should run for this classic Napa Cab.
*Papillon 2006 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir - From the Cherry Hill Winery in the Eola Hills area. Layers of aromas and flavors with a tangy finish make it one of my favorite Pinots - plus it has the cutest label you will ever see:) $12.99
Tier 2 - These are all are under $6. Yes, I have always said "Life is too short to drink cheap wine." but sometimes you don't have a choice so here are some good ones:
Whites and Sparklers:
*Zonin Prosecco 2006- fruity with a little sweetness. These bubbles will make ya happy especially because a bottle is only $5.99!
*Bear's Lair Viognier2006 - good acidity, stonefruit on the nose, some viscosity on the mouthfeel. Excellent for $3.99
*Pancake Cellars 2007 Big Day White
60% Sauvignon Blanc, 27% Chardonnay, 12% Gewürztraminer, 1% Pinot Blanc. 13.7% alcohol. Lovely fruity nose, tastes a lot like a Gewurzt...$4.99
*Well Red Organic Cabernet Sauvignon – organic/ sulfite-free. Try this if red wine gives you headaches...$5.99
*Black Mountain Fat Cat Cab 2006 - One of the best-selling wines at TJ's and for good reason. Good fruit with smooth tannins. Not too much sugar. A little young but quaffable nonetheless. $4.99
*Ruggero di Tasso 2006 Nero d'Avola - $3.99 - another great Italian food wine. Nice berry and plum flavors with good acidity.
If you cannot find these at your local Trader Joe's ask your order taker to get them for you. If I have skipped your favorite please post it here. Thank you for reading and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!