2012 Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon

Mondays are rough.  I am in the height of the desert lettuce season which means not only a lot of work, but also a lot of travel in order to do that work.  Boo.  But, a weekend trip to Trader Joe’s did give me an idea for the blog.  I figure it would be smart to give people a few solid options they could pick up anytime from places they are going to be shopping in anyway (Costco, Trader Joe’s…).  So that explains my recent entries.  I am sure I will get back to more of what I normally drink soon but for now I think this is a fun side project, especially with the holidays approaching.

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I haven’t had any wine under the Trader Joe’s labels before.  I think we have all muscled down a bottle of 2 buck chuck here and there, but I haven’t bought a TJ brand since I got into wine.  I have a baseline of respect for Trader Joe’s wine department from the start.  They usually have pretty good quality wine flow through them.  They also do a pretty good job to bring some off-beat varietals to market.  It’s also a secret of Trader Joe’s that they will let you try any product in the store before you buy it, including wine.  That said, if you go in there and ask them to open 15 bottles and walk out with a bottle of 2 buck chuck, don’t expect to be welcome back to that store anytime soon.  But, if you are serious about buying 4+ bottles that are of a decent price, don’t be shy about telling them to open a bottle that you may be on the fence about.  It seems that TJ’s does try to hit most of the main wine price points with its various labels.  they have bottles that are around $7, $10, and $12.  This one happens to be the “high-end” one.  I think it was $12.99.

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The Rutherford region of the Napa Valley is an interesting area, especially for Cabernet Sauvignon.  It is a relatively small region and is pretty much smack dab in the center of the Napa Valley.  The southern end of the valley is mostly sediment soils from various ancient water activity and the northern end of the valley is mainly volcanic soils.  Since Rutherford is right in the middle it kind of has a mix of both.  The fruit can thus display mineral qualities characteristic of volcanic soils and also lush berry flavors of well-drained sediment soil.  Generally, bulk wines don’t really have much character.  This wine isn’t exactly an exception to that rule but it does at least have some interesting glimmers of complexity.  I would never guess that this wine was a Cab had I been tasting it blind.  It’s mellow and smooth but does have some spicy notes to it.

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For $12, you can’t go wrong here.  It’s a perfectly drinkable bottle.  This is a perfect wine to drink while you are cooking and are going to use some for a sauce or something.  They always say you shouldn’t cook with something you wouldn’t drink, but there is no way I would dump some of the wines I open into a sauce or make a pan sauce with them.  But this bottle from TJ’s is perfect.  I can drink and enjoy it on a weeknight and still not feel bad about using a glass of it to make a reduction.  It’s always a good idea to keep some of those bottles on the rack.

Go get some.  Try some other stuff from TJ’s too.  Let me know what you think.

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