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Nov 2, 2006 02:13 AM

New Featured Wine at TJ's... opinions?

I was in Trader Joe's this afternoon and noticed a new Charles-Shaw-esque wine on display in the entrance, retailing for $4.99. I believe it was called "Napa Valley" or "Napa Vineyards" or something pedestrian like that.

Anyone tried it?

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  1. Grabbed a bottle of the Napa River merlot. Okay, but nothing special. I won't buy it again.

    1. Oh, I'm sure it's crap.

      We in the U.S. need to develop a great table wine culture. And no, I don't mean a ten dollar bottle worthy of daily drinking, I mean a two dollar bottle.

      That Chuck stuff is horrible. We need to find a kickass varietal that puts out and puts halfway decent stuff on the table and not only at Trader Joe's.

      Why not like Europe, where wine is part of life?

      2 Replies
      1. re: therealbigtasty

        Not being subsidized, I believe it is not possible to find a $2 bottle worthy of daily drinking . . . $10, yes. Even less than $10. But not two -- the cost of production here in the US is just too high.

        Keep in mind that, in contrast to the US,Europe has no history of "jug wine." Our "two dollar bottle" doesn't exist, in part, because that 750ml is bottled not as a "regular" bottle, but blended together with more wine to create a 3.0L or 4.0L bottle, or a 5.0L box. It isn't until one gets to those sizes that the cost per ounce starts getting close.

        $2.00/750ml bottle = $0.078/ounce ("Two Buck Chuck")

        $7.99/5.0L box = $0.047/ounce (Almaden White Grenache @ BevMo)

        $12.99/4.0L jug = $0.096/ounce (Almaden Rhine Wine)

        Also, keep in mind that most of the "everday" vin de table is just that -- non-appellation table wine.

        1. re: zin1953

          Yeah, I know, it's just a bummer.

          Those damn prohibitionists ruined a lot about the American life so long back then...

          You ever read Drink: A Social History of America? Great read, it's a great perspective on the history of alcohol in this country--does a great job explaining a lot of the things that go on with booze in this country.

      2. This is Fred Franzia's revenge on Napa Valley. He picked up a bunch of bulk wine with NV appellation, bottled it at his facility in south Napa.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jimtak

          Fred definitely deserves his share of scorn, but there ARE some things for which Napa deserves some scorn . . . .

        2. I wouldn't buy a $4 steak, why in the world would I drink a $4 wine.

          2 Replies
          1. re: dinwiddie

            Well, for those of us who remember when a good steak could be had for under $4/lb. . . . ;^)

            The cost of production does not even come close to justifying $50, $75, $100+ bottles of American-made table wines. Nor does the fabled "Law of Supply and Demand."

            It has always been easy to find great bottles of expensive wine. The trick is to find great wines that do NOT cost the proverbial arm-and-a-leg. Not long I entered the wine trade, my mantra was "What the world needs is a great bottle of wine under $5." And they were out there. Today, that's increased somewhat. Now what the world needs is a great bottle in the $10-15 range -- less, when feasible. These, too, are out there. One merely has to look.

            That said, nothing coming out of the Bronco Wine Co. -- or Trader Joe's, for that matter -- really qualifies . . . at least as far as my personal palate preferences are concerned.

            1. re: zin1953

              I agree, there are plenty of very good wines in the $12-15 range. I have more than my share of more expensive wines, but you usually have to pay more for small production wines, especially great Pinot Noirs. However, I have never seen a $5 wine that I thought was worth drinking (at least not in the last 5 years or so) and since I can afford much better wine I live by the moto "Life is too short to drink cheap wine." Inexpensive is one thing, but for my money cheap wine gets you what you pay for.

          2. That's Five Buck Fred, but TJ's had been trying very hard to not perpetuate that nickname.

            I actually prefer Two Buck Chuck over Fred. I don't understand the snobbery against low priced wines; charles shaw is absolutely drinkable and very good for the price. I also have many bottles of pricey stuff in my cellar, but two buck chuck is just fine too sometimes.

            I know someone who basically only buys wines that are $70 and up. I've been thinking that it would be good fun to have a blind taste test, mixing in some of the "cheap" bottles.

            3 Replies
            1. re: slacker

              "I actually prefer Two Buck Chuck over Fred. I don't understand the snobbery against low priced wines; charles shaw is absolutely drinkable and very good for the price. I also have many bottles of pricey stuff in my cellar, but two buck chuck is just fine too sometimes."

              I cannot speak for others (nor do I try), but my attitude towards Charles Shaw is that it's all but undrinkable. I have tried dozens of bottles as part of my job(s). I can, to quote Dimitri Tchelistcheff, "count on one hand with change left over" the number of bottles I thought were good. Not good for the money, but good, period. But I am talking here about MY tastes, MY preferences. This is a totally different criteria than what I would use professionally. SOME (but only some, in my opinion) bottlings from Charles Shaw can offer decent QPR. Others do not.

              But I am all for spending less money on wine, and there is no snobbery involved -- at least, not on my part.

              1. re: zin1953

                Um, okay.

                Whatever your job is, sounds pretty good to me.

                1. re: slacker

                  Trust me -- having to taste that many bottles of plonk is not my definition of fun."