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Trader Joe's Wine Recs?

Scott the Poet Jul 20, 2009 02:29 PM

I like randomly sampling the wines at TJ's, Cline Zin is reliable and the Bogle Petit Syrah is tasty, but too often wind up with a bottle that's no better than the 2 buck chuck. Looking for daily drinkers under $10, red or white. Let's separate the Clines from the Chucks!

(Since TJ's is far more prevalent in So Cal than elsewhere, I'm posting here rather than the wine board.)

  1. isofblue Mar 3, 2014 08:35 AM

    I agree - I did a tasting with all four Epicuro wines and was also highly impressed with eh Salice Salentino, I am also the wine guy at the TJ Princeton NJ

    1. s
      sweetTooth Feb 28, 2014 11:28 PM

      Recently tried the TJ's Reserve Petite Syrah from Mendocino County. I liked it enough to pick up more. Around $10.

      1. Ed Dibble Nov 1, 2013 03:57 PM

        Monte Ducay - Spanish from Carinena. Currently the 2009 is in stock. I think it's fine everyday wine. Good with pizza or pasta.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Ed Dibble
          BobB Mar 1, 2014 06:57 AM

          Yeah - $7 here in Boston. It's my current house red.

          1. re: Ed Dibble
            isofblue Mar 3, 2014 12:36 PM

            ANd its a Reserve - 3 years aged in oak

            1. re: Ed Dibble
              trolley Mar 3, 2014 01:09 PM

              I just had it. I feel like it was meh. I prefer the LaGranja tempranillo/garnacha over the Monte Ducay.

            2. h
              HillJ Sep 27, 2013 08:28 PM

              The sparkling sake was horrible. Curiosity got the better of me. Not drinkable.

              1. wineguy7 Sep 21, 2013 11:55 AM

                I recently got the following at TJ's and liked them:
                2010 IL TAROCCO CHIANTI CLASSICO

                2 Replies
                1. re: wineguy7
                  Ed Dibble Sep 25, 2013 09:17 PM

                  Just had a bottle of the Goats do Roam South African chenin bl and viognier 2012. Fuller flavored than the Pine Ridge, but not as flowery in the nose. But at $5.99 in CA, a real steal.

                  1. re: Ed Dibble
                    wineguy7 Sep 26, 2013 05:54 PM

                    Yeah, I've had that before. Unfortunately it wasn't in stock at the Stonestown location when I was there.

                2. trolley Sep 21, 2013 10:28 AM

                  I know some of you have read my comments on how I just moved from Socal to Boulder, CO where there is no TJ's. They're building one but not quite fast enough. and oh, how i miss it so bc now i', paying $1-5 more for some of the same wines I found at TJ's. I did enjoy Pine Ridge viognier and the Peachy Canyon Zin. Hess Cab and BR Cohn silver label cab are decent at $15.

                  1. t
                    TombstoneShadow Sep 21, 2013 01:20 AM

                    Question: "Trader Joe's Wine Recs?"

                    Answer: no, not even close

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: TombstoneShadow
                      Midlife Sep 21, 2013 08:00 AM

                      Question: "wine snob"?
                      Answer: yes!

                    2. Robert Lauriston Sep 13, 2013 12:42 PM

                      I've been buying Sauvignon Republic 2012 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Excellent value at $8, as good as Marlborough SBs that cost twice that. Worth the extra couple of bucks over the cheaper one TJ's carries.

                      12 Replies
                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                        BigWoodenSpoon Sep 19, 2013 04:37 PM

                        Hi Robert,

                        Cool, I'll let folks know. Is it less "grassy" than the Kono?
                        BTW, we just got in a 2012 VINTJS North Coast Pinot Noir for $8.99 that is pretty darn tasty and the 2012 Allure de Robles at $5.99 is a steal this year. Erich emailed me last month to let me know it was coming and that it had only been in bottle for a week as of August 18th. Definitely needs some air, best on Day 3 or for the impatient, 3 times through the Vinturi. Lower alcohol than previous years, higher natural acidity and I think tastes more like a French Cote du Rhone than a CA version. I'll probably buy a few for the Holidays and to put down for next year.

                        Erich also recently made a Bandol-style rose (with imported yeast and 50% Mouvedere) which I strongly encouraged him to present to our Wine Buyer for consideration.
                        Cross your fingers!

                        1. re: BigWoodenSpoon
                          Robert Lauriston Sep 19, 2013 05:46 PM

                          I can't remember the Kono but the Sauvignon Republic is grassy. I expect and want that in Marlborough SB.

                          1. re: BigWoodenSpoon
                            Midlife Sep 24, 2013 01:29 PM

                            Picked up both the Vintjus and Allure lady night. Have to say I was disappointed by the Allure. Too earthy and dull for my palate. I've found Rabbit Ridge to be very spotty over the years in general. Will try the Vintjus over the weekend.

                            Have to add that I really appreciate you insider reviews. Almost always spot on for me.

                            1. re: Midlife
                              BigWoodenSpoon Sep 26, 2013 02:31 PM

                              The Allure is VERY young in bottle, only about 5-6 weeks. Best on Day 3 at this point and will be even better next summer. Yes, this vintage was designed to be more like a French Cote du Rhone as per requests to the winemaker. Lower alcohol, higher natural acidity, definitely not a big, juicy CA wine. BTW, you might enjoy the 2011 Grand Reserve Napa Cabernet: $12.99 if you like the more sensual, fruit-forward (but not sweet) Cabernet. This plus the Petite Reserve Paso Robles Merlot: $7.99 and the Dynamic Red: $8.99 were the hits of yesterday's Crew Tasting.

                              You're welcome for the insights. It's nice to be able to share and let people know what's coming down the pike.
                              Lots of new things coming for the Holidays. I'll keep you posted : )

                              1. re: BigWoodenSpoon
                                Midlife Sep 26, 2013 07:05 PM

                                The Allure HAD opened up a little by the second night, but still just OK for me. Of course, I've had some really nice Paso GSMs lately and it's not a fair comparison.

                                1. re: Midlife
                                  PolarBear Sep 27, 2013 08:09 AM

                                  Which PR blends have you found Midlife?

                                  1. re: PolarBear
                                    Midlife Sep 27, 2013 10:26 AM

                                    Denner Ditch Digger, Villa Creek Avenger, Tablas Creek esprit de Beaucastel, McPrice Meyers Beautiful Earth. All GSM, SMG, or variants....... But at prices 4 times the Allure. As I said...... not fair.

                                    1. re: Midlife
                                      PolarBear Sep 27, 2013 05:19 PM

                                      All excellent I agree, yes unfortunate about the prices. Have you tried any of Mac's second label, Barrel 27?

                                      1. re: PolarBear
                                        Midlife Sep 27, 2013 11:33 PM

                                        I've had Head Honcho and Hand Over First. Both very, very good.

                                        1. re: Midlife
                                          PolarBear Sep 28, 2013 07:50 AM

                                          Likewise, have also found the Rock and a Hard Place grenache and High on the Hog white blend to be good, especially when they've run their occasional monthly specials.

                            2. re: BigWoodenSpoon
                              Robert Lauriston Oct 30, 2013 05:54 PM

                              I took a bottle of the Allure de Robles to a party and didn't want more than a taste. Nothing French about it to my palate.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                trolley Oct 30, 2013 07:13 PM

                                i'm far from a wine expert but i thought Allure de Robles was so bad that i took it back to TJ's. it tasted too sweet to me.

                          2. Liquidsquid May 26, 2013 10:22 PM

                            My latest red wine blend goto, when the Allure de Robles is gone, is the Hangtown red (5.99) made by Boeger El Dorado Co. I got a chance to talk to a Boeger rep at SF Lamb Jam and asked what grapes were used. He said all of them.

                            I have also recently tried the newly available 2011 Boeger 2011 Zin (8.99) wich I thought was a was a good value but didn't knock my socks off.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Liquidsquid
                              Midlife May 26, 2013 11:38 PM

                              "all of them" ?????

                              According to the Boeger site it's "based in" (whatever that really means) "Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Barbera, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel".

                            2. c
                              CrikaDaSilva May 22, 2013 03:40 PM

                              TJ has plenty of good wines for $10. Although I have been burned once, 25 other times I have come away with great wine for the money. And I don't drink Two Buck Chuck. They have some wines from Spain for $4.99. The brand is Terrenal and I think that they are great values.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: CrikaDaSilva
                                BigWoodenSpoon May 22, 2013 08:58 PM

                                Yeah, right now at least in NCA there are plenty of deals:

                                Ravenswood Petite Sirah: $5.99
                                Ponitifcus 2011: $6.99
                                Estancia Cabernet: $7.99
                                TJ's Petite Reserve (Cabernet) Rose: $5.99
                                Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio: $6.99: Crisp & Crunchy
                                And at the Top of the Heap: $9.99
                                Tribunal 2011
                                TJ's Reserve Russian River Pinot Noir Lot#72 2011
                                (Just released: I'm drinking it as I type)
                                I'm loving the acidity of 2011 and how the flavors are still big, yet many wines seem to be a little lighter on the palate.

                              2. p
                                pickypicky Jun 16, 2012 09:03 AM

                                2010 Tribunal is excellent. Finally tasted. Decanted with force, and yes, it improved over time. There is plenty at my TJ's, so I guess living in the land of the dimwittedness ( beach location I won't name) has its advantages.

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: pickypicky
                                  trolley Jun 19, 2012 10:31 PM

                                  where do you guys live? i looked for Tribunal in 3 different TJ's and none of them carried it. and i thought I lived in the capital of Trader Joe's!

                                  1. re: trolley
                                    pickypicky Jun 20, 2012 11:32 AM

                                    You can't shop at the smart peoples' Trader Joeses. You have to go somewhere like Pacific Beach in San Diego. (but I think each TJ's selects their own wines from the overall TJ list. Or so I heard.)

                                    1. re: pickypicky
                                      trolley Jun 20, 2012 01:19 PM

                                      ok, well i live in Pasadena home to CalTech so i guess i'm SOL! haha!

                                      1. re: trolley
                                        Peripatetic Jun 20, 2012 06:23 PM

                                        Also the birthplace of TJs! Thanks for saving me from a fruitless circuit around Hastings Ranch, Rosemead Blvd, Lake Ave, Arroyo Pkwy, Echo Park, and La Canada.

                                        1. re: Peripatetic
                                          trolley Jun 20, 2012 10:40 PM

                                          i've only been to arroyo, lake st, and hastings ranch.

                                          i haven't been to eagle rock (echo park?), lacanada, montrose/glendale, rosemead, arcadia/monrovia, south pasadena, glendale, toluca lake, silver lake...ok, that would be exhausting for a bottle of wine! it's amazing how a 5-20 minute drive can land me at a different TJ every time!

                                          1. re: trolley
                                            Peripatetic Jun 21, 2012 01:01 AM

                                            The Eagle Rock one is just over the border from Pasadena on Colorado Blvd. I've never been to the Monrovia one -- I wonder if it's any different given that Monrovia is TJ's corporate headquarters?

                                            1. re: Peripatetic
                                              trolley Jun 21, 2012 07:36 AM

                                              well, what i meant is that i haven't been to all the locations to find this mystery wine that people speak so fondly of however, i've been to all the locations otherwise. the monrovia one is disappointing. it's pretty small for refrigerated item however, i haven't perused their wine section.

                                      2. re: pickypicky
                                        BigWoodenSpoon Jun 21, 2012 12:45 PM

                                        Yup! Each store shops for what sells in their area out of their region's Order Guide.
                                        BTW, the fastest way to find things is to CALL each store in your area, ask if they have a particular item and have them HOLD it for you for pickup that day or the next day.
                                        (The phone numbers are on the website)
                                        No need to drive around the crazy freeway system down there unless you've located your wine of choice ahead of time : )

                                  2. c
                                    christy319 Jun 12, 2012 04:03 PM

                                    Any good finds lately?

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: christy319
                                      pickypicky Jun 13, 2012 09:18 AM

                                      Tribunal is back. I've bought but haven't tasted yet and don't know if it even comes close to the legendary '08 (reputed to be blended by Dave Phinney). Reviews of the '09 were good. I also buy Rabbit Ridge Allure du Robles and Liberte Cabernet. Columbia Crest Merlot and Chardonnay are always excellent and consistent for the price.

                                      1. re: pickypicky
                                        pickypicky Jun 13, 2012 09:25 AM

                                        I googled Tribunal and found the Phinney myth debunked (sort of).

                                        1. re: pickypicky
                                          BigWoodenSpoon Jun 13, 2012 10:24 AM

                                          Alert! Rabbit Ridge is sold out until the next vintage is available.

                                          The latest Tribunal is big, bold and bright and more acidity and a little less chewiness.
                                          BTW, this is also sold out, so what's on the shelves is all there is left, so don't delay.

                                          The best deal I have on my shelves in Alameda besides the 2008 Buena Vista Pinot is the 2007 CdP (from Skalli Family Estates according to my fact sheet) for $19, comps are listed at $35. Smoky and delicious, a big hunk o' meat and you're good to go.
                                          We'll be tasting the VINTJS Sauvignon Blanc and the Petite Reserve Rose, both $5.99, next week, but if they're anything like last year's vintage, these will be great summer values.

                                          1. re: BigWoodenSpoon
                                            christy319 Jun 13, 2012 11:42 AM

                                            I know $5.99 isn't much to waste if the bottle is bad, but still, I'd love a report back on the SB.

                                            1. re: christy319
                                              BigWoodenSpoon Jun 20, 2012 09:20 AM

                                              I'm very happy to report the both the Sauvignon Blanc and the Petite Rose are in fact BETTER than last year's vintage. The SB is more balanced, less tart, tasty and refreshing. The Rose, which is 70% Cabernet is nicely dry with a noticeable spicy component. Both of these will be great Summer food/party wines which I look forward to enjoying again.

                                              1. re: BigWoodenSpoon
                                                JAB Jun 20, 2012 09:58 AM

                                                Thanks for reporting back BWS!

                                      2. Robert Lauriston Oct 30, 2011 01:04 PM

                                        The Epicuro Aglianico Beneventano IGT 2009 is a great value. Best $5 bottle of wine I've had in a long time. Bright, fruity, good food wine.

                                        7 Replies
                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                          BigWoodenSpoon Nov 1, 2011 02:33 PM

                                          You must have gotten a better bottle than us or let it breathe for a while.
                                          Our store tasted it for Flyer and we we're fans. It's been much better in earlier vintages.

                                          BTW, speaking of $5 wine, the 2010 Chariot Gypsy is in the house and is quite tasty this year. Jason (the Younger) recommends it on his blog: jasonswineblog.com:
                                          "To recap, we have a blend of 63% mystery “dry red”, 22% Cabernet and 15% Merlot versus the heavy Zinfandel component and accompanying Petite Sirah typical in previous vintages. Sweet on the nose and a touch on the palate with juicy cherries and soft acidity. Simple and pleasing but perhaps as good for what it isn’t, not cloying, harsh or flabby, as what it is. A solid $5 table wine for any occasion." On my shopping list for Holiday Gift Baskets for my nephews, etc.

                                          I'll keep y'all posted once we taste more of the new wines that are coming in.

                                          1. re: BigWoodenSpoon
                                            Robert Lauriston Nov 1, 2011 03:23 PM

                                            I've had three bottles of the 2009 Epicuro Aglianico Beneventano from two different stores, didn't let any of them breathe, didn't need to. Might be a bit too acidic to drink without food.

                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                              Midlife Nov 2, 2011 07:24 PM

                                              My initial take is exactly the same as Robert's although I found that the acidity seemed to mellow out after about 40 minutes in a large glass. Pretty decent wine for 5 bucks.

                                              I picked up a bottle of the Gypsy at the same time. Will try that over the weekend I guess.

                                              Still not certain if I really like some of these wines or am just rationalizing based on the price/value. But it's fun either way.

                                              1. re: Midlife
                                                Robert Lauriston Nov 3, 2011 09:47 AM

                                                I had no idea what the Epicuro cost when I first tasted it and was quite surprised it was so cheap.

                                                1. re: Midlife
                                                  Midlife Nov 9, 2011 12:34 AM

                                                  The 2010 Chariot Gypsy is a good buy as well. I just hope there's some left of it and the Epicuro after I get moved in to our new abode next week.

                                                  1. re: Midlife
                                                    frank828 Nov 9, 2011 09:26 PM

                                                    i just took the last bottle of chariot gypsy from my local LA TJs. i'd agree that it's really good for the price(although i dont have much experience). it tastes good.

                                                    1. re: frank828
                                                      BigWoodenSpoon Nov 30, 2011 09:25 PM

                                                      If you liked Chariot Gypsy, you might also enjoy the Rabbit Ridge Allure de Paso Robles Red for the same $4.99. I liked it better enough that I'm planning on exchanging the bottles I bought of Chariot for holiday gifts and replacing them with Rabbit Ridge.
                                                      Another "$ 5 favorite" is the Columbia Crest Two Vines Riesling: Off dry, apricot, peaches, not terribly complex but nice for the price and a slightly bright finish.

                                          2. v
                                            VancityCookro Aug 18, 2011 08:19 PM

                                            2009 Spiral Wines Cabernet Sauvignon. $5 - great wine for price (same as wines 2-3X price). Drinks better after being open for a day.

                                            1. Scott M May 12, 2011 01:12 PM

                                              Just saw a new wine at TJ's called Lost Sonnet it is a 2007 Napa Valley Meritage, runs about $9.99 a bottle. Has anyone tried it yet?

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Scott M
                                                pickypicky Aug 19, 2011 03:32 PM

                                                Thanks for the tip. This blog has done some great writing on TJ's new wine ventures: sourcing grapes and putting them with winemakers who cook up some pretty fine wines at great prices.


                                                This is reminiscent of the Woodenhead Mendonoma and Dave Phinney's Tribunal. Are you in NoCal? That seems to be the locus of the great TJ wines. SoCal selection pretty much sucks.

                                              2. b
                                                bricap Mar 20, 2011 10:29 PM

                                                Incanta Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (2005 or 2007), only $11. This one is a rock star.
                                                La Granja Syrah from Carinena, Spain, only $5.
                                                Epicuro Salice Salentino ~$6
                                                There was a Chateauneuf du Pape that was only $10. I'd pay that price all day for it if I ever saw it again. It came out right about when the most recent vintage of CdP was supposed to be released, and I am guessing this was someone's overrun during a very slow year for wine sales. It is not the CdP in the weird shaped bottle that you sometimes see for Cotes du Rhone there. That one wasn't nearly as good as the one I'm talking about.
                                                And I'll mention it again: $4 for Espiral Vinho Verde.
                                                I saw that they just got a Brunello in for only $16, one they claim goes for $40, usually. Anyone try that one yet?

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: bricap
                                                  thursday Mar 23, 2011 03:02 PM

                                                  I just tried the La Granja Syrah last night and was very pleasantly surprised - way more complexity than I expected from a $5 wine.

                                                  1. re: bricap
                                                    bricap Mar 29, 2011 08:57 AM

                                                    I have a new one to add: Reves Priorat, only $10. I needed to run it through my Vinturi, just an FYI. It's pretty good for $10, though, considering how expensive Priorats can run.

                                                    1. re: bricap
                                                      BigWoodenSpoon Mar 29, 2011 09:55 AM

                                                      +1: Tasty!

                                                      BTW, the '09 Chariot Gypsy ain't too bad for a daily drinker at $4.99: Cherry, raspberry, spice
                                                      Looking forward to trying the 2007 Hogue Meritage $7.99 and the Picton Bay Pinot Noir $7.99

                                                  2. Mud Dog Feb 24, 2011 01:28 PM

                                                    My favorites at Trader Joe's right now:
                                                    2008 Trentatre Rosso 33 $5.99 Delicious

                                                    2009 DnA Vineyards Benefactor Cellars $4.99 Very good, but a little too much heat on the finish for me.

                                                    2009 Chiusa Grande Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Tommolo $5.99

                                                    2009 Spiral Wines Cabernet Sauvignon Surprisingly good for only $4.99.


                                                    1. h
                                                      Helene Goldberg Jan 25, 2011 09:33 PM

                                                      My favorite tj red wine is L'Authentique. It's $3.99 . Nothing pretentious, just good French vin ordinaire. I love it for. It is my house wine.

                                                      1. mtngirlnv Jan 24, 2011 03:19 PM

                                                        I opened up a bottle of the Liberte Cab and it was great for under $10.

                                                        1. Tripeler Jan 14, 2011 11:06 PM

                                                          Last May my wife and I bought a bottle of Stonehedge Sauvignon Blanc at Trader Joe's for an amazing $4.95. She really likes it; I think it is a fairly good table wine.

                                                          1. Scott M Jan 14, 2011 12:42 PM

                                                            Has anyone tried the 2008 Woodenhead Zin Mendonoma
                                                            (Sonoma/Medocino)? I saw it on the shelves but didn't purchase.

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: Scott M
                                                              pickypicky Jan 14, 2011 05:43 PM

                                                              Interesting. I just went tasting at Woodenhead yesterday. Good zins. The Mendonoma may be a special blend for TJ. Wonder if this is more fuel for the rumor that TJ is buying grapes directly and hiring winemakers to make up batches for them. (Because of the glut of grapes due to the economy. . .)

                                                              1. re: pickypicky
                                                                pickypicky Jan 21, 2011 05:38 PM

                                                                The Woodenhead Mendonoma is terrific, Scott M! Having it tonight. We decanted it roughly, and it's totally ready, willing, and able to be drunk. ( 'Specially since my TJ's was sold out of the Tribunal. Also read that the Hamilton Steven's Zin and Pin are worth trying but haven't yet.)

                                                                1. re: pickypicky
                                                                  BigWoodenSpoon Jan 24, 2011 08:25 AM

                                                                  Thanks for the heads up about the Woodenhead. I'll talk to my domestics buyer tomorrow and see if we have room to bring it in.
                                                                  N.CA Tribunal Fans: Alameda TJ's has about two cases left. Top shelf with the Zins.
                                                                  I've got my bottles, so come and get 'em!

                                                                  1. re: pickypicky
                                                                    Scott M Jan 24, 2011 11:05 AM

                                                                    Thanks for the report. I will have to pick some up on my next TJ's visit.

                                                              2. c
                                                                Chulacat Jan 14, 2011 08:14 AM

                                                                I like the Mediternee white. Nice crisp white from Spain for around $4.99 at TJs.

                                                                1. p
                                                                  pickypicky Jan 11, 2011 06:03 PM

                                                                  2008 Tribunal (Sonoma Mystery Red). Grab it if you can find it. Rumor is that Dave Phinney made it. My tastebuds believe it.

                                                                  19 Replies
                                                                  1. re: pickypicky
                                                                    Midlife Jan 12, 2011 10:53 PM

                                                                    Checked my local South Orange County California TJ's today and it is already gone. Info on any sightings in this area appreciated.

                                                                    1. re: Midlife
                                                                      westsidegal Jan 13, 2011 12:31 PM

                                                                      found it at the store near LAX

                                                                      1. re: westsidegal
                                                                        Midlife Jan 13, 2011 01:07 PM

                                                                        westsidegal, when did you find it there and did you like it as much as pickypicky seems to have? I usually buy one bottle and taste it that day (sometimes in the parking lot), before buying more, but LAX is 50 miles of bad traffic away from me. SIL lives in Culver City. Is this worth a few bottles?

                                                                        BTW............. how much was this wine???

                                                                        1. re: Midlife
                                                                          westsidegal Jan 13, 2011 10:03 PM

                                                                          haven't tried it yet.

                                                                          also, have confirmed that culver city tj no longer carries.
                                                                          probably won't taste it until the supply is off the tj shelves.
                                                                          taking a flyer.

                                                                          1. re: Midlife
                                                                            pickypicky Jan 14, 2011 08:08 AM

                                                                            9.99. I'm no expert nor snob. I found the wine delicious. Complex enough to be engaging, and full of flavor. Ready to drink and enjoy. A good everyday wine. Yesterday at a Sonoma tasting room I tasted a red blend of a reputable maker, and it was undrinkable. I would buy a case of the Tribunal, if I could.

                                                                            1. re: pickypicky
                                                                              chez cherie Jan 14, 2011 08:18 AM

                                                                              i concur. we bought 8 bottles, and are going back for more today. i think our 2 tjs still have some. we are big "prisoner" fans, and were delighted to find this wine may have a connection.

                                                                              1. re: chez cherie
                                                                                Scott M Jan 14, 2011 12:35 PM

                                                                                I haven't had a lot of Orin Swift wine but did pick up some Tribunal. It was a solid $10 bottle of wine. Well balanced, good acidity, noticeable tannin adding to the structure. It was a little tight when I first opened but gained some weight after some time. I have been drinking more extracted fruit driven wines lately so this one felt a little lacking and the finish a little short but it filled out with some air. I put a cork in the bottle and will revisit tonight.

                                                                                1. re: Scott M
                                                                                  westsidegal Jan 14, 2011 02:48 PM

                                                                                  when i bought the Tribunal, the TJ team member that checked me out told me that it needs to breathe for AT LEAST an hour before drinking.

                                                                                  confirms your experience.

                                                                                  1. re: westsidegal
                                                                                    Midlife Jan 14, 2011 05:39 PM

                                                                                    I asked my SIL to check the Westchester TJs for me and call me so I'd have time to get some more input from this topic. Well...... t they had it but my SIL couldn't reach me while she was there so she went ahead and bought TWO CASES because the store guy was so big on it. She likes light sweet wines! What am I gonna do with TWO CASES of this stuff?????? I need to taste one and decide how many I want to keep. Oh, the dilemma!!!!

                                                                                    1. re: Midlife
                                                                                      westsidegal Jan 14, 2011 10:09 PM

                                                                                      to be in your shoes...

                                                                                  2. re: Scott M
                                                                                    chez cherie Jan 15, 2011 02:19 AM

                                                                                    i like it better day 2. we're in the habit now of opening the bottle, sharing one glass, then leaving that bottle for the next evening. havent decanted it or used the venturi, but i will try that. i did find a few more bottles to play with.

                                                                                    1. re: chez cherie
                                                                                      pickypicky Jan 15, 2011 06:31 AM

                                                                                      Our bottle definitely improved during the evening, through cooking and eating dinner. But the first few sips surprised me. As a woman, I trust my wine intuition, and when I'm surprised by a wine, that's usually a good sign that there's something worthwhile in the bottle.

                                                                              2. re: Midlife
                                                                                Midlife Jan 21, 2011 05:46 PM

                                                                                Finally got to try the Tribunal and it is really a steal for $9.99. And it DID get even better after 45 minutes or so. I wound up keeping one the two cases and I think my SIL returned the other to Westchester TJs.

                                                                                1. re: Midlife
                                                                                  pickypicky Jan 22, 2011 07:34 AM

                                                                                  Are you in NY? Just curious about how far out of CA the Tribunal traveled.

                                                                                  1. re: pickypicky
                                                                                    Midlife Jan 22, 2011 09:17 AM

                                                                                    I'm in Orange County, CA. The Westchester referred to is the one just North of LAX. My SIL lives in Culver City. I got the heads up from westsidegal and asked SIL to go check.

                                                                                    1. re: Midlife
                                                                                      westsidegal Jan 25, 2011 07:52 PM

                                                                                      just called them up.
                                                                                      maybe it was your SIL that returned a case to Westchester TJs today. . . . .

                                                                                  2. re: Midlife
                                                                                    westsidegal Jan 22, 2011 09:16 AM

                                                                                    there is not one bottle left there now.
                                                                                    the case must have been snapped up moments after she returned it.

                                                                                    1. re: westsidegal
                                                                                      goodhealthgourmet Jan 25, 2011 08:37 PM

                                                                                      crap. i just caught this discussion and was going to swing by the Westchester store tomorrow to see if there was any left!

                                                                                      assume you've checked SM & both West LA stores?

                                                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                                        westsidegal Jan 25, 2011 09:24 PM

                                                                                        check the DATES of my posts!!!!!
                                                                                        the case was returned today, 1/25.
                                                                                        chow board put the most recent post on top.

                                                                          2. g
                                                                            global_eater Nov 14, 2010 02:35 PM

                                                                            All of the "2-buck-chuck" comes from Bronco wineries in the central valley...where they grow melons...NOT wine grapes...for a reason...high yield LOW quality...Bronco wineries makes all of that cheap production wine with names that sound like housing tracts: Quail Ridge, Fox Hollow, Salmon Creek.... Napa Landing....although NONE of their grapes are grown in Napa...that's just a winery name they bought...I will not get into the various lawsuits they've survived (see Wikipedia)...

                                                                            I'm not saying this wine to be avoided, however, it IS low end quaffing wine...if you just want to get a bit hammered & are not too picky

                                                                            16 Replies
                                                                            1. re: global_eater
                                                                              alanbarnes Nov 14, 2010 03:17 PM

                                                                              >>"the central valley...where they grow melons...NOT wine grapes...for a reason...<<"

                                                                              Wow. Reviving a year-old thread is one thing. Reviving it just to post information that is simply incorrect is another.

                                                                              California's central valley is one of the most fertile agricultural regions in the world, a source of all kinds of produce from asparagus to walnuts. Melons? Not so much. Lots and lots of wine grapes, though.

                                                                              Much of the grape harvest is certainly made into plonk. Some, on the other hand, is the basis of very good wines. Matter of fact, most of the zinfandel grown in the US comes from the Central Valley and the neighboring Sierra foothills.

                                                                              1. re: alanbarnes
                                                                                Midlife Nov 14, 2010 06:23 PM


                                                                                The Central Valley is not Napa, Sonoma, or the Central Coast when it comes to California's best wines but I wouldn't lump all of it together with plonk by any means. The Foothills area, especially El Dorado County, is the source of some really high quality wine indeed. Even in the area around Lodi, wine grapes are grown for blending with some of the better regions' fruit, making them more affordable, and also standing alone in some nice moderately priced wines. Two-buck Chuck kindof exists in it's own world.

                                                                                1. re: Midlife
                                                                                  bclevy Nov 14, 2010 07:59 PM

                                                                                  There is a big difference between soils of the Sierra Foothills (El Dorado
                                                                                  and Amador) and those of the Central Valley. Sierra Foothills soils are
                                                                                  granitic and rather poor, which is ideal for vines, since they get stressed and
                                                                                  produce low yields with intense grapes. They are similar to soils of the Northern Rhone
                                                                                  Valley in France, which explains why Rhone Varieties (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre,
                                                                                  Viognier, Roussanne) do well in the Sierra Foothills (as well as Northern Italian
                                                                                  varieties like Barbera and sangiovese). In contrast, soils of the Central Valley are
                                                                                  richer and have much bigger yields per acre. This is hardly ideal for high
                                                                                  quality wine making. With respect to Zinfandel it is true that some of the Sierra
                                                                                  Foothills and Lodi winemakers share the same overripe high in alcohol
                                                                                  style, but some of the more interesting Sierra Foothill zins (Vino Noceto OGP,
                                                                                  Cedarville or even Lava Cap) are vinified in a lighter and leaner style, much
                                                                                  lower in alcohol.

                                                                                  1. re: bclevy
                                                                                    Midlife Nov 14, 2010 10:05 PM

                                                                                    No question the soils are different, but according to whatever authority put this on Wikipedia (the US Geological Survey is cited), El Dorado County is considered part of the Sacramento Metro area and the Central Valley: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Valley_%28California%29

                                                                                    However the State of California Library agrees with you and doesn't include it in the Valley area: http://www.library.ca.gov/crb/97/09/#...

                                                                                    1. re: bclevy
                                                                                      alanbarnes Nov 15, 2010 06:34 AM

                                                                                      Point well taken, but there's no commonly-accepted bright line between the Valley and the Foothills. While the vineyards in El Dorado County are pretty universally considered to be in the foothills, vineyards in Amador County are often considered to be in the valley.

                                                                                      As far as stuff from the valley floor, there's no doubt that the soil and the climate tend to produce high yields. And I think it's fair to say that the best wines from Clarksburg and Lodi will never be as good as the best wines from Napa. But that's a long way from saying that they're of a kind with Two Buck Chuck.

                                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes
                                                                                        BN1 Nov 15, 2010 09:38 AM

                                                                                        "...vineyards in Amador County are often considered to be in the valley." This is not true. No part of Amador county is considered to be in the valley. The county seat is Jackson and this county is considered the "Heart of th Mother Lode" in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. The Shenandoah Valley was once the princicpal wine growing region of California and produces outstanding wines to this day. This is the only "valley" associated with Amador County.

                                                                                        1. re: BN1
                                                                                          alanbarnes Nov 15, 2010 09:44 AM

                                                                                          >>"No part of Amador county is considered to be in the valley."<<

                                                                                          Ever been to Ione? It may be getting close to the foothills, but at 250' above sea level it ain't there yet.

                                                                                          1. re: alanbarnes
                                                                                            Midlife Nov 15, 2010 09:56 AM

                                                                                            Interesting. My quick Googling (cited above) concluded that El Dorado County is sometimes considered part of the Valley, but not Amador (at least from the two sources I checked). Your point, nonetheless, is understood.

                                                                                            1. re: Midlife
                                                                                              bclevy Nov 15, 2010 12:52 PM

                                                                                              El Dorado County is a very large county extending between
                                                                                              the Sacramento suburbs and Lake Tahoe. The part close to
                                                                                              Sacramento is in the valley, but the part where wine is produced
                                                                                              is around Apple Hill and Placerville at an elevation of approximately
                                                                                              1800 feet.

                                                                                            2. re: alanbarnes
                                                                                              bclevy Nov 15, 2010 12:45 PM

                                                                                              I think you are mistaken concerning elevations of Amador wineries.
                                                                                              The wineries around Plymouth are at an average elevation of
                                                                                              1500 feet:


                                                                                              In contrast, Lodi has a 50 feet elevation. I have spent enough (too much
                                                                                              )of my time wine tasting at the wineries located between Placerville and Plymouth
                                                                                              (with Fair Play and MtAukum in between) to know that the hills throughout
                                                                                              the entire area are very steep (Mt Aukum winery is located at 2,600
                                                                                              feet on top of a hill with view over the entire region) and the soil
                                                                                              is quite poor. On the other hand, as soon as you drive down towards
                                                                                              Lodi, you see lush vegetation everywhere.

                                                                                              1. re: bclevy
                                                                                                Midlife Nov 15, 2010 01:39 PM

                                                                                                The more this goes on the more it strays from the original point. Wine from the Central Valley was referred to in derogatory terms and some of us believe it is incorrect to classify all of it with things like Two-Buck Chuck. I've never had a wine from the Valley 'floor' that was as good as some I've had from the Foothills, but they weren't all junk either. That's really all this is about IMHO. ......... Unless I'm really missing something.

                                                                                                1. re: Midlife
                                                                                                  PolarBear Nov 15, 2010 02:15 PM

                                                                                                  Over the past several years Fresno State (aka CSU Fresno) has garnered quite a few gold medals (yeah, I know...) and notoriety for it's Barbera (much ended up being exported to Italy), Primitivo (Darrel Corti bought up most of it, I had to drive to Sacramento to get a couple of cases) and a few other varietals that escape my memory. I believe they are still the only university in the country that makes and sells its own wines.

                                                                                                  @ global_eater, I'm not a fan of sweet and fortified wines especially, but should point out that Ficklin Port is prized all over the world, and Quady produces some damn fine dessert wines, Essencia, and Elysium to name two. Both originate in Madera, can't get much more central valley than that.

                                                                                                  1. re: PolarBear
                                                                                                    alanbarnes Nov 15, 2010 02:41 PM

                                                                                                    And speaking of Quady, let's not forget their vermouths, which are IMO some of the finest out there.

                                                                                                    1. re: PolarBear
                                                                                                      PolarBear Nov 29, 2010 05:52 AM

                                                                                                      Ran across this article that details many other grapes and varietals produced in the Central Valley.


                                                                                                    2. re: Midlife
                                                                                                      bclevy Nov 15, 2010 02:17 PM

                                                                                                      Like you, I am rather leery of Central Valley wines. Some of the
                                                                                                      wines from Lodi (like St Amant Touriga) I enjoy are actually sourced
                                                                                                      from Amador. As for the Clarksburg area, it enjoys a cooler
                                                                                                      weather due to the proximity of the Delta, which explains why
                                                                                                      its wines are a cut above other Central Valley locations.

                                                                                                    3. re: bclevy
                                                                                                      alanbarnes Nov 15, 2010 01:45 PM

                                                                                                      Thanks for the link. I do note that one of the locations tagged is Jackson Valley Vineyard in Ione, at 233 feet. Admittedly most Amador County vineyards are higher than that, but they still tend to be lower than El Dorado County vineyards.

                                                                                                      That said, there's no denying the difference in growing conditions in Fair Play and those in Lodi. My only point was that the precise placement of the line between the valley and the foothills is inherently arbitrary.

                                                                                      2. p
                                                                                        pickypicky Feb 26, 2010 03:40 PM

                                                                                        just moved to TX from CA and am going through TraderJoeWithdrawal. Yall don't know how good you got it. There is absolutely NO wine worth drinking under $10 in this damn state, and I'm a native Texan. I miss Jason's blog, and I miss Trader Joe's. Following Jason's reco's was just plain fun for us poor folk. . .

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: pickypicky
                                                                                          alanbarnes Feb 26, 2010 04:14 PM

                                                                                          If you happen to be in Austin, talk to John Roenigk at the Austin Wine Merchant on West Sixth Street. It's been more than 15 years since I was a regular customer, and the place has grown a lot since it was just him and a bunch of bottles in a cluttered space, but he was the one who got me started really appreciating wine. And if my experience was any indication, he's undeterred by very modest budgets.

                                                                                          1. re: alanbarnes
                                                                                            pickypicky Feb 27, 2010 09:07 AM

                                                                                            bless your little heart, AlanB. we're near enough to Austin for day trips, so I'll put John on the list! over and over, the wine section of Chow has been a winner for me-- far more than the restaurant section.

                                                                                        2. b
                                                                                          bricap Feb 13, 2010 04:00 PM

                                                                                          I just opened my bottle of 2005 Incanto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano that I bought at TJ's for about $13 or so. I absolutely loved it. This one is a blend with mostly Sangiovese. One thing I love about Trader Joe's is that I can experiment on the cheap. VNDM is generally more expensive and not the easiest wine to find, so I hadn't really had a chance to try it out otherwise.

                                                                                          10 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: bricap
                                                                                            Leonardo Feb 13, 2010 04:29 PM

                                                                                            My favorite find lately at Portland TJ's has been the 2008 Eola Hills (OR) Pinot Noir, $13. Far better deal than anywhere else in town and a great value, comparable to many in the $20 range. I suspect this is available only at local stores.

                                                                                            1. re: Leonardo
                                                                                              BigWoodenSpoon Feb 16, 2010 09:23 PM

                                                                                              <sigh> Yup, that sounds delicious and it's not in the NorCal Order Guide.
                                                                                              Stock up while you can lucky people.

                                                                                              1. re: BigWoodenSpoon
                                                                                                Jay D. Feb 22, 2010 12:06 PM

                                                                                                Heck I find some good deals at TJ's. I'm a fan of Australian wines and wines from south America. Yes they are in the best bang for your buck category and so what. They are affordable and good quality. I found a nice Portuguese vino verde that is a sparkler there and its a great house wine. One friend said ," Oh I feel like I'm special and we are having a party!" she liked it that much! Hello $3.99!

                                                                                                I use to work in a wine shop and you know what? Wine snobs over think things. For god sakes people it is meant to be enjoyed but some times the snob thing very much ruins the fun for others around you. Also most folks can NOT afford Silver Joke or Stags leap for a week night wine. I do not like two buck chuck but there are plenty of good buys in the ten buck and under category! Bev Mo has the 5 cent sale on now! Hello Penfolds $11.99 a bottle and 5 Cents for a second bottle! Now I just need to drink some wine so I can make room!

                                                                                                1. re: Jay D.
                                                                                                  JAB Feb 22, 2010 03:31 PM

                                                                                                  Do you remember the name of that Portuguese sparkling vino verde? Also, how long ago was it that you found it?

                                                                                                  1. re: JAB
                                                                                                    alanbarnes Feb 22, 2010 04:15 PM

                                                                                                    My TJ's has been carrying Espiral Vinho Verde for a while. It doesn't have enough pressure to qualify as a true sparkling wine (is there such a thing as true sparkling VV?), but it has the definite petillance typical of the style. Don't know if it's the same thing Jay D got, but FWIW...

                                                                                                  2. re: Jay D.
                                                                                                    BigWoodenSpoon Feb 23, 2010 09:45 AM

                                                                                                    Yeah, the Vino Verde is one of our Crew Favorites, especially at the price point.
                                                                                                    Another $3.99 "fun wine" that everyone liked is the Green Fin Organic White. Aromatic, zippy, fruity nose, fun and friuty, very slighty "off-dry" with a nice finish.
                                                                                                    It made me think of Spring , good weather & food to come.

                                                                                                    1. re: BigWoodenSpoon
                                                                                                      Midlife Feb 25, 2010 04:16 PM

                                                                                                      I found an online mention of what's in Green Fin and it includes Sultana, Colombard and Muscat. Is "very slightly off-dry" in the same vein as Vino Verde? Muscat is usually sweet, but no % is given.

                                                                                                      Just to put this wine in perspective.....Muscat and Colombard are respectable wine grapes; Sultana is Thompson Seedless... basically table grapes. Gotta love Fred Franzia.

                                                                                                      It's worth $3.99 to try it, though I'm thinking it will be just, as you say, a 'fun wine'.

                                                                                                      1. re: BigWoodenSpoon
                                                                                                        westsidegal Jan 13, 2011 12:34 PM

                                                                                                        the green fin is a good wine for serving to crowds.
                                                                                                        it is easy-to-understand, not too dry, doesn't need any food to smooth out the edges.

                                                                                                      2. re: Jay D.
                                                                                                        bricap Feb 28, 2010 07:26 PM

                                                                                                        We love that Espiral vinho verde for only $3.99. It's great to have during the summer, especially. Pairs very well with Mexican seafood dishes, too.

                                                                                                    2. re: Leonardo
                                                                                                      Leonardo Mar 2, 2010 08:03 PM

                                                                                                      Re: Eola Hills '08 OR Pinot Noir for $13 at TJ: I take it back. Found the same wine at Fred Meyer on sale for $9.

                                                                                                  3. BobB Nov 20, 2009 12:40 PM

                                                                                                    I've long been a fan of Kris Pinot Grigio. I first started getting it from a local wine shop at around $14 a bottle, then later discovered the exact same wine at TJ's for $3 or $4 less.

                                                                                                    1. c
                                                                                                      Cary Nov 12, 2009 11:21 AM

                                                                                                      Some recent stuff from TJs that are decent-to-good are the 2007 Perrin Cotes-du-Rhone "Reserve". 07 Rhones are hyped up the wazoo right now, but this bottle is cheap and good. For those in NorCal, this bottle is easily found at K&L.

                                                                                                      TJ's private label "Vint JS" has a good 2008 Syrah. $7-8, and made by Lindquist at Qupe.

                                                                                                      Regarding TJ in general...I think they are doing a decent job introducing new wine drinkers to a ballooning marketplace of wine. Wine is supposed to be (traditionally) an everyday beverage with a meal. Wine is not about ScrEagle, Lafite or DRC 99.99% of the time.

                                                                                                      People may start at the Two-Buck-Chuck, but many then move on to explore cheap Chilean, Australian, New Zealand, French, Spanish and even South African wine. Then if they start wanting to learn more about wine and expand to the $25+ per bottle range, independent wine retailers are a great next step.

                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: Cary
                                                                                                        monkuboy Nov 22, 2009 07:28 AM

                                                                                                        I wholeheartedly agree with you! Too many wine snobs all over the place, dissing TJ's because they don't carry Screaming Eagle and the like.

                                                                                                        1. re: monkuboy
                                                                                                          alanbarnes Nov 22, 2009 09:39 AM

                                                                                                          Heck, they even carry Stag's Leap. And considerably cheaper than the local wine shop.

                                                                                                          Where the local wine shop really shines is in the personalized service department - the staff generally have far greater depth and breadth of wine knowledge than the typical TJs crew member. And not just when it comes to higher-priced wines; if you want to explore the range of, say, inexpensive Cotes du Rhones, you can get far better information and direction at a wine shop than at TJs. Plus, a wine shop can buy small lots of more exotic wines, whereas TJs tends to buy wines that are made in much larger quantities.

                                                                                                          I like both, and each has its place. That Perrin Cary mentioned drinks very well for the price, as does the $5 Ogier CdR, and I happily buy them both from TJs. But if I'm looking to pick up a bottle of something I've never had before, the guy at the wine store is going to provide me with far better selection and guidance.

                                                                                                          1. re: alanbarnes
                                                                                                            monkuboy Nov 22, 2009 08:55 PM

                                                                                                            I agree, they both have their place! Without TJ's the wine industry would be worse off revenue-wise and so would the consumer, I say.

                                                                                                          2. re: monkuboy
                                                                                                            Scott M Nov 23, 2009 01:12 PM

                                                                                                            The TJ's by me carries Screaming Eagle, or maybe it's Yelling Pigeon. I can't remember.

                                                                                                          3. re: Cary
                                                                                                            baron45 Dec 29, 2009 09:30 AM

                                                                                                            My cousin served the Perrin at Xmas dinner and it was good stuff for the money. Worth a re-buy. Many times, I've tried these cheap Rhones and they are not nearly as good.

                                                                                                          4. njfoodies Nov 3, 2009 04:03 AM

                                                                                                            I hit the closest Trader Joe's that sells alcohol in Westfield, NJ on Sunday with a friend, and thought I might find some gems. She was actually buying wine for her wedding this coming Saturday, and with her budget, Two Buck Chuck was the only option. She needed 4 cases as well as a case of bubbly, so I took a ride with her to help her pick it up.

                                                                                                            To me, their selection and pricing wasn't any better than I could get at the local shops I frequent, ie Canal's (Marlton, Hainsport, Lawrenceville, Hamilton), Glendale, Shop Rite, Windsor Wine & Spirits, CoolVines, etc, etc. I actually found that their pricing on one of my go to pinot noir, the 2006 Sanford, was $8 more per bottle than I am paying locally. Call me cheap, but $8 per bottle adds up fast! I was a bit intrigued by their cheap Bordeaux selection, and actually h ad a mixed case in my cart before changing my mind thinking that 1) I probably won't be happy with these wines, and 2) I really don't have the room for them right now. That said, I put them back, but did pick up a bottle of the Trader Joe's Reserve cabernet Yountville that I keep seeing pop up in threads on different boards. We'll see if it's worth the $12.

                                                                                                            As for the Two Buck Chuck, it is what it is. We serve it to the adults on Halloween and the annual Christmas walking tour in town once we run out of the other "guest wines" that have been left at our house that we are not fond of. It is what it is, and serving it to these visitors is always a hit...and I would much rather pour them that since I don't know them than the $30-$50 bottle of pinot that we're drinking! =) -mJ

                                                                                                            1. s
                                                                                                              stalkingwine.com Nov 1, 2009 01:10 PM

                                                                                                              Scott - I highly recommend you stop shopping for wine at Trader Joes and head over to established, trusted SoCal wine shops instead. For the same money, you will exponentially increase your 'hit rate' on value wines.

                                                                                                              This is a sore, old topic for me, but I'll lay it out quickly. TJ's puts a lot of wine on their shelves at attractive price points...just like Safweway. If they cared about wine quality more than profit, you wouldn't see half the bottles on their shelves.

                                                                                                              That said, stop shopping at TJ's and other supermarkets and go to specialized wine retailers. Make friends with them...and watch your knowledge expand while you greatly increase your ability to find great values in the $7-15 range.

                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: stalkingwine.com
                                                                                                                westsidegal Nov 1, 2009 11:03 PM

                                                                                                                but when you go to trader joe's it's sort of like playing WHERE'S WALDO, which, in and of itself is sort of entertaining.
                                                                                                                and trader joe's is open to 9 pm.

                                                                                                                1. re: stalkingwine.com
                                                                                                                  BigWoodenSpoon Nov 3, 2009 11:50 AM

                                                                                                                  Actually, Corporate IS "focusing our Wine offering" as we speak. A lot of the slower sellers (and some dreck) are on their way out the door and private labels are coming up more and more. That said, it really depends on the store.
                                                                                                                  Do they have a Wine Geek/Person/Team? Is the Captain interested in wine and committed to bringing in quality items or do their customers only want "the cheap stuff"? We have Stag's Leap Cab (yummy!) in our Order Guide at $43 (I think), but in my store most folks want to spend between $3-10 (if that).
                                                                                                                  My job as Head of Crew Tastings for the Alameda store is to find the gems amongst the manure and let y'all know about them. I've been fighting very hard to have time in the Wine Department so I can answer your questions and help you make educated choices. Most folks just want a nice bottle that won't suck and I've had a lot of positive feedback about the wines I've recommended. So again, its the store in particular that has the control of what they carry according to what sells in their neighborhood and how often the Crew Members have Tastings to obtain product knowledge. Also, some wines are only available in certain regions. I might get a wine in Northern CA that isn't available anywhere else. Same with Southern CA, Washington, Oregon, etc.

                                                                                                                  Now don't get me wrong, I don't get all my wine at work. Not enough good Rieslings ; )
                                                                                                                  I have access to a number of discount outlets in my area which I frequent when funds are available and my local wine bar/shop has expanded my palate immensely.
                                                                                                                  I LOVE finding a good deal and I try to do that for my customers as well. I encourage folks to use all the resources available in the hunt for a good wine, even if what they're looking for isn't at my store. And yes, I do refer them to the other wine shops in town if we don't carry wines they want. If you like, I can ask about the stores in SoCA and see if anybody down there has our specific interest.
                                                                                                                  Also, for more info on some of the wines we carry, please don't forget Jason's blog: www.jasonswineblog.com. I try to post the results of our store's weekly tastings there as often as time and content allows.

                                                                                                                  1. re: stalkingwine.com
                                                                                                                    alanbarnes Nov 3, 2009 12:13 PM

                                                                                                                    I'm a big fan of the independent wine store, especially when it's owned and operated by people who share (or at least identify with) my tastes, preferences, and budget. But to tell someone to buy wine at independent shops or forego it entirely is unnecessarily elitist.

                                                                                                                    Close to my house there are half a dozen to a dozen grocery stores (including TJs) and a similar number of drugstores. All of them carry a decent, if not inspired, selection of wines. Total number of good independent wine shops in that radius? Zero.

                                                                                                                    For a special bottle, or when exploring new horizons, you'd better believe you'll find me at the specialty store. But if the plan is to grill burgers for dinner and we need something to serve with them, I'm not going to hop in the car and drive an hour round trip. A CdR from TJs or maybe a Ravenswood Zin from Safeway or CVS will do the trick very nicely, thankyouverymuch.

                                                                                                                    1. re: stalkingwine.com
                                                                                                                      Midlife Nov 21, 2009 11:04 AM

                                                                                                                      The OP talked about <$10 wines. I find that TJ's is a pretty good source for wines in the $5 to$7 range (an area I never would have thought I'd be looking at a couple of years ago). <$5 is a crap shoot anywhere. At >$7 (not an exact baseline, but pretty close) I would begin to agree with the specialty wine retailer idea. Certainly >$10.

                                                                                                                      What I find about supermarkets is that their values are much better when they run items on sale. If you have time to price shop, markets and volume wine 'warehouses' can be very good too. I just find TJs convenient and consistent, in that $5-$7 range (my new threshhold of daily drinkability), once I know which wines I like. Takes re-adjusting every so often.

                                                                                                                    2. j
                                                                                                                      jfkadlec Oct 17, 2009 08:51 PM

                                                                                                                      my wife and i serve a lot of wine. we have found that our white wine drinkers will drink more of the honeymoon viognier than anything else.

                                                                                                                      we have compared it with the macmanis viognier which is not nearly as fruity. macmanis is drier and a bit austere. it would appeal to those who like sauvignon blanc. the honeymoon viognier appeals to chardonnay drinkers.

                                                                                                                      the red wine drinkers will enjoy a full bodied purple moon shiraz (syrah) at a low price.

                                                                                                                      don't sneer at the 2 buck chuck. remember......it received a gold medal in a blind tasting by some of the finest palates in the country, at the orange county fair a couple of years ago. that was in competition with some of the supposedly most well crafted wines costing twenty times as much. if you don't believe it hide it in a high priced chardonnay bottle. your guests will never complain.

                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: jfkadlec
                                                                                                                        PolarBear Oct 18, 2009 06:31 AM

                                                                                                                        TBC medals are pretty meaningless....


                                                                                                                        1. re: jfkadlec
                                                                                                                          invinotheresverde Oct 18, 2009 08:34 AM

                                                                                                                          I would complain. ;)

                                                                                                                          1. re: invinotheresverde
                                                                                                                            BigWoodenSpoon Oct 18, 2009 02:57 PM

                                                                                                                            Me too!
                                                                                                                            Seriously, that "vintage" was in stores for only a little bit and then we have the latest batch which isn't horrendous, but I'd feel much more comfortable serving the $6 Hogue or one of our private label wines. The amount of cases that go through my line is unbelieveable, but unfortuantely in many cases quantity is more important than quality. I thank all my customers that buy "good wine" because I know that even thought they want a good deal, the integrity of the wine is more important than the price.

                                                                                                                        2. s
                                                                                                                          sweetTooth Sep 14, 2009 01:19 PM

                                                                                                                          +1 for the Bogle Petite Syrah.
                                                                                                                          Recently I got curious about this one, tried it and liked it - Le Grotte Reggiano Lambrusco. I believe it is going for < $5. Slightly fizzy and sweet, great chilled. Let the sneering begin! :->

                                                                                                                          1. Peripatetic Aug 23, 2009 08:36 PM

                                                                                                                            Are either of TJ's proseccos good?

                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: Peripatetic
                                                                                                                              BigWoodenSpoon Aug 24, 2009 11:48 AM

                                                                                                                              The Zonin is a Brut with nice bubbles and a lemony note which I like it better that the Villa Carlotta that is "softer", a smidge sweeter and has not as many bubbles.

                                                                                                                              Yup, Albero is the vineyard, thursday.
                                                                                                                              You might also want to try the Incanto Frizzante Rose ($6), dry, fizzy & tasty.

                                                                                                                              1. re: BigWoodenSpoon
                                                                                                                                Peripatetic Aug 24, 2009 11:55 AM

                                                                                                                                Thanks BWS. Will try it and report back.

                                                                                                                                1. re: BigWoodenSpoon
                                                                                                                                  scrappydog Aug 24, 2009 12:29 PM

                                                                                                                                  I had the Incanto recently and agree that it is worth a try.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: scrappydog
                                                                                                                                    BigWoodenSpoon Sep 10, 2009 09:20 AM

                                                                                                                                    Glad to hear it.
                                                                                                                                    BTW everyone, you might want to check out the Mt. Linden Merlot & Cabernet ($4).
                                                                                                                                    We just tasted them last night at our All Store Meeting and the Crew really enjoyed the Merlot, which was juicy, smooth and delightfully easy to drink (I had to open a second bottle, which I've never done before) and the Cabernet was nice & easy drinking as well. This is a "Opportunity Buy" and supplies are limited at this point, so don't delay. I'm a confirmed white wine gal who can appreciate a nice red and I'm seriously considering picking up a few of these for myself.
                                                                                                                                    Also, the Grigio Luna Pinot Grigio ($6) was the favorite white. Light to medium body, refreshing acidity that mellowed a little bit as it warmed up and light flavors of stone friuts. Definitely a nice addition to the Pinot Grigio section.

                                                                                                                              2. t
                                                                                                                                thursday Aug 22, 2009 10:14 PM

                                                                                                                                +1 for the Ogier

                                                                                                                                Le Chateau Vouvray ($7) won our New Year's $35 maximum wine tasting, and there's a light, sparkling white Lambrusco that's $4 and excellent for these hot summer days and nights. There's a Spanish vineyard (I believe it's Albero?) that has a great dry rose and a very nice Tempranillo for $6 or $7 a bottle - organic, and delicious.

                                                                                                                                1. b
                                                                                                                                  BigWoodenSpoon Aug 22, 2009 02:02 AM

                                                                                                                                  Hiya! There's actually quite of number of wines that are quite tasty in the $10 and under range. Love the Castle Rock Mendecino County Pinot Noir ($10), +1 on the Perrin & the Now & Zen, just got in the Trentante Rosso ($6: Smoky, smooth, 33% Cab, 33% Merlot, 33% Montepulciano) which the Crew enjoyed and the Chateau Ste. Michelle Pinot Gris ($10) was very interesting as well. Bright nose and kinda fizzy on the mid-palate.
                                                                                                                                  I also love the Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc ($10ish), great aromatics, grapefruit, green apple but not a fruit grenade, and a wonderful, zesty finish.
                                                                                                                                  Big fan of Jason's blog and I use it at my store all the time.
                                                                                                                                  Alert: It looks like Corporate might be starting to clear out the slow sellers in preparation for the Holidays. If you have any odd favorites, it would be a good idea to check on their status and maybe stock up before its too late.

                                                                                                                                  1. r
                                                                                                                                    redmeatfan Jul 23, 2009 11:19 AM

                                                                                                                                    "I like Clos du Bois but what's wrong with Two Buck Chuck? Some lots of their merlot are pretty darn good, especially for $1.99. Funny how some critics rate wines by the price rather than by taste? I've served 2BC many a times to guests where they gave the thumbs up until they found out what it was."

                                                                                                                                    I hate to say it but these guests don't follow the tasting process of smelling and moving the wine around to hit all the taste buds. I served a Manyana Tempranilio against a good one and only one person could tell the difference. Then I taught everyone how to taste wine and everyone liked the other one better.

                                                                                                                                    This was done all blind and no one knew the identity or cost of either wine.

                                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: redmeatfan
                                                                                                                                      chuckl Jul 23, 2009 03:57 PM

                                                                                                                                      i've tasted them all, 2 buck chuck is bulk wine from Bronco made with cheap grapes from Lodi. In my opinion, they're all terrible, though the sauvignon blanc doesn't make me want to spit it out as quickly as the others. I'd prefer to splurge and spend $5 for something that's at least drinkable

                                                                                                                                      1. re: chuckl
                                                                                                                                        miki Mar 3, 2010 05:19 PM

                                                                                                                                        I've been known to buy the 2 buck chuck (3 buck chuck here in Minnesota), and I'm not exactly a wine expert. But when wine is made from blends of grapes or cheap grapes, isn't a lot of sugar added to even out the taste?

                                                                                                                                        I use the whites to cook with, and yes, I'll drink the Merlot. But I've noticed a tendency toward nasal congestion after I drink it. Could this be a problem with tannins? I can't drink tea without getting sick (and I would LOVE to drink tea.)

                                                                                                                                        Again, I love TJ's products. I really like that Gewurtztraminer that sold so well over Thanksgiving - is it JW Morris?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: miki
                                                                                                                                          Akitist Mar 5, 2010 02:01 PM

                                                                                                                                          No answers on this? Miki, in California many cheaper grapes are grown in warm areas and develop more sugar, not less. In vinification that sugar is converted to alcohol. Today's wine is higher in alc than that of 30 years ago due to the higher sugar the grapes start out with. No need to add sugar, there's plenty there at the beginning. Even/especially the cheaper grapes.

                                                                                                                                          That the wines "give an impression of sweetness" is not due to sugar.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Akitist
                                                                                                                                            miki Mar 6, 2010 02:15 PM

                                                                                                                                            Thank you! I seriously have to start reading up on the subject again; most of my knowledge is outdated!

                                                                                                                                      2. re: redmeatfan
                                                                                                                                        monkuboy Jul 24, 2009 09:26 PM

                                                                                                                                        Regarding your before and after Tempranilio taste comparison - while I can understand educating people on how to taste, on the other hand a thought that came to mind was "ignorance is bliss."

                                                                                                                                      3. alanbarnes Jul 21, 2009 07:18 PM

                                                                                                                                        Has anybody compared the Perrin Cotes du Rhone with the Ogier? I stumbled across the latter, was pleasantly surprised, and have stuck with it. But if the Perrin is significantly better...

                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                        1. re: alanbarnes
                                                                                                                                          rdt01 Jul 24, 2009 11:15 AM

                                                                                                                                          Alan, this year both Ogier and Perrin CdR are very good. You should give it a try. But Ogier is more consistent year to year. Also, for those who haven't bought Ogier, you must look for the squat bottle, because the name Ogier does not appear conspicuously on the label.

                                                                                                                                          Also agree with your cremant recommendation.

                                                                                                                                        2. PolarBear Jul 21, 2009 02:57 PM

                                                                                                                                          Might want to take a look at this:


                                                                                                                                          I'd pretty much given up trying to ferret out the hidden gems at TJ's until I discovered Jason.

                                                                                                                                          +2 on alanbarnes reco for Espiral VV (also maker of Gazella, iirc, which Bev-Mo currently has on their 5cent sale) and for the Chariot. One other great find at TJ's is a French blend called Now and Zen Wasabi White.

                                                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: PolarBear
                                                                                                                                            Joe Blowe Jul 21, 2009 04:46 PM

                                                                                                                                            I know winery corporate/family trees can be convoluted, but I think Gazela and Espiral only use the same exporter, Sogrape Vinhos S.A., and the same U.S. importer, Evaton Inc. If you look closely at each label, however, they indicate they are bottled by different wineries: Gazela is bottled by Sogrape Vinhos S.A., and Espiral is bottled by the cryptic "Eng. No. 505." Maybe it's some type of FBN/DBA, maybe it's a completely different company, I don't know...

                                                                                                                                            Regardless, my wife and I *much* prefer the Gazela over the Espiral, and we always buy a couple of cases per year during the Bevmo 5 cent sale. With the Gazela going for $4.50 per bottle (when on sale), it's a no-brainer over the Espiral!

                                                                                                                                            Let me also add Archeo Nero d'Avola to the TJ's list -- solid pick for the money:


                                                                                                                                            1. re: Joe Blowe
                                                                                                                                              PolarBear Jul 21, 2009 05:19 PM

                                                                                                                                              Thanks for the clarification, JB. I picked up a few of the Espiral before the 5c sale came around, thought it was drinkable, especially since I wasn't going to pay $9 for the Gazela.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Joe Blowe
                                                                                                                                                vinhotinto75 Jul 21, 2009 06:51 PM

                                                                                                                                                + 1 for the Archeo Nero d'Avola.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: PolarBear
                                                                                                                                                jjrzut Aug 21, 2009 12:39 AM

                                                                                                                                                Thanks so much for mentioning Jason's Wine Blog!


                                                                                                                                                1. re: jjrzut
                                                                                                                                                  monkuboy Aug 21, 2009 08:01 PM

                                                                                                                                                  Oh, so that's you! Thanks for posting so many TJ wine reviews. By any chance have you tried the VINTJS pinot noir? Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: monkuboy
                                                                                                                                                    jjrzut Aug 22, 2009 03:32 PM

                                                                                                                                                    I have not tried the VINTJS Pinot Noir. I did try what I believe to be the predecessor to this one, the Trader Joes Grand Reserve Pinot Noir, and I wasn't a big fan. I believe this is made by the same folks (Adler Fels) if I recall correctly Anyhow, Angela (aka BigWoodenSpoon) left this is in a comment on my blog: "I kinda liked the VINTJS Pinot Noir: Santa Lucia Highlands ($9), definitely not a “light & friuty” wine, but one with a little more substance.."

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jjrzut
                                                                                                                                                      monkuboy Aug 22, 2009 03:58 PM

                                                                                                                                                      Thanks for the reply. Today I followed your advice and bought a bottle of the Picton Bay Pinot Noir. I'm going to try it this week to see if I should buy more. I also bought a bottle of the VINTJS Pinot and, despite your skip it recommendation, a bottle of the Caretaker PN mainly because of the comments on your post which made it sound like the bottle you tried needed to settle down some. There were only four bottles left of that one. Have you tried a 2nd bottle? Also, they had only the 2004 Howell Mountain Cab. Have you tried that? Funny, this lady thought I worked there and even though I told her I didn't, she started asking me about the Italian wines listed in the latest flyer. Then she picked up a Santa Margarita Pinot Grigio and I told her no matter what, don't buy it - it's way overpriced!

                                                                                                                                              3. c
                                                                                                                                                chuckl Jul 21, 2009 01:54 PM

                                                                                                                                                Salice Salentino has become one of my favorites


                                                                                                                                                1. scrappydog Jul 21, 2009 01:02 PM

                                                                                                                                                  Marqués de Cáceres Rioja Blanco white wine $5.99
                                                                                                                                                  Another vote for the Perrin Cotes du Rhone red wine $6.99
                                                                                                                                                  Domaine Ste Michelle Blanc de Noirs sparkling wine $6.99

                                                                                                                                                  1. alanbarnes Jul 21, 2009 12:57 PM

                                                                                                                                                    The Ogier "Caves des Papes" Cotes du Rhone ($5) is one of my favorites. Look for the squatty bottle.

                                                                                                                                                    Espiral Vinho Verde ($4) is crisp and lightly effervescent. Going through a lot of that this summer.

                                                                                                                                                    All the sparking wines are competitively priced. On the cheap end of things, try the Blason Cremant de Bourgogne ($10). I'm not particularly fond of Domaine Ste. Michelle ($7) by itself, but it makes a great French 75; mix up Monopolowa gin ($10/l), lemon juice, and simple syrup, top with bubbly, and kiss your evening goodbye.

                                                                                                                                                    1. g
                                                                                                                                                      ginnyhw Jul 21, 2009 12:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                      Try the Como Sur Sauvignon blanc for 7.99. WF had it on special for 15.99!

                                                                                                                                                      1. w
                                                                                                                                                        weegeebee Jul 20, 2009 03:53 PM

                                                                                                                                                        A couple times a year they get this wine called "Chariot". It's a red blend, about $4.99 a bottle. Very good stuff considering the price, and makes a nice table wine or cooking wine.

                                                                                                                                                        I also like their CDR by Perrin, I think $6.99.

                                                                                                                                                        One of their sparkling wines is a great bang for the buck, I think St. Michelle, about $7

                                                                                                                                                        I've had some good luck with various SBs and Voigniers. Don't recall any specific names, but if you stay in the $7-10 range, you usually get pretty good value. Kim Crawford is solid but is probably closer to $12.

                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: weegeebee
                                                                                                                                                          Vetter Nov 1, 2009 08:29 AM

                                                                                                                                                          The Chariot is about 7 bucks up here in WA. It's tasty for the price, but a little on the sweet side. I wasn't quite sure what to do with it, it was so sweet.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Vetter
                                                                                                                                                            Midlife Mar 2, 2010 02:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                            Wow! are you describing Chariot "Gypsy" or some other Chariot wine? Actually, I think they make only the one, but..........................

                                                                                                                                                            Chariot 'Gypsy' is a blend of cab, petite sirah, zinfandel, and sangiovese. There's no way I, personally, would describe it as 'sweet'. Somewhat fruity, maybe, and some people do use the word 'sweet' to describe fruitiness. But this wine is not sugary sweet to my palate at all.

                                                                                                                                                            Curious as to whether this is the same wine I was just going to post a rousing rec for.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Midlife
                                                                                                                                                              Vetter Nov 16, 2010 08:07 PM

                                                                                                                                                              Sorry for the delay - funny how threads get away from one. Yep, we were talking about the SAME wine. I have a sweet tooth and I drink a lot of good red wine. I suspect this is a good example of what can happen when you get away from small batches.

                                                                                                                                                        2. e
                                                                                                                                                          emilymm Jul 20, 2009 03:43 PM

                                                                                                                                                          I'm into not too expensive Pinot Noir. I like Black Mountain (the price recently went up to 5.99), Rex (6.99), and Blue Fin (3.99).

                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: emilymm
                                                                                                                                                            Jacey Jul 20, 2009 04:30 PM

                                                                                                                                                            I really like Black Mountain Sauv Blanc too

                                                                                                                                                          2. y
                                                                                                                                                            Yes Please Jul 20, 2009 03:35 PM

                                                                                                                                                            Casillero Del Diablo Carmenere from Chile. It was recommended to me by "the wine guy" and I love it. Have gotten it a couple more times and goes great with a lot of things and everyone else always seems to love it too!

                                                                                                                                                            1. t
                                                                                                                                                              trimtab Jul 20, 2009 03:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                              A couple that I just tried over the weekend. Blue Fin Chardonnay. Great fruity quaffing wine. Under 4$. Perfect for summer. Hogue Chardonnay. Somewhat buttery, nice fruit and a steal at 5$.

                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: trimtab
                                                                                                                                                                Rat3 Nov 3, 2009 08:15 AM

                                                                                                                                                                I, too, just recently found Blue Fin at TJs. Enjoyed the Chard and the Petite Sirah... I bought a case of the Petite Sirah:) Especially nice at $3.99.

                                                                                                                                                              2. m
                                                                                                                                                                mollygirl Jul 20, 2009 03:20 PM

                                                                                                                                                                Sorry but 2 Buck Chuck Sucks.

                                                                                                                                                                First off, I would suggest asking the people at TJs that work in the wine department. They really do try a lot of the wines they carry and can make really good suggestions.

                                                                                                                                                                However, one that I really like is Zarafa. It's a South African winery and TJs usually carries a Pinotage (it's made from a hybrid Pinot Noir grape) and a Chardonny. Inexpensive and really good.

                                                                                                                                                                1. k
                                                                                                                                                                  kotatsu Jul 20, 2009 02:38 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  Scott - I don't mind posting that there is a very drinkable chardonnay made by Clos du Bois that also cooks down nicely. I see it in TJs all the time for less than $10. I don't have the most sophtsticated taste in wines, but I've served this guests who were either very polite (and hated it) or actually liked it.

                                                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: kotatsu
                                                                                                                                                                    Clinton Jul 20, 2009 03:06 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    I like Clos du Bois but what's wrong with Two Buck Chuck? Some lots of their merlot are pretty darn good, especially for $1.99. Funny how some critics rate wines by the price rather than by taste? I've served 2BC many a times to guests where they gave the thumbs up until they found out what it was.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Clinton
                                                                                                                                                                      Scott the Poet Jul 20, 2009 03:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                                      It's not that 2 buck chuck is all that bad, I like the merlot and the savignon blanc and drink plenty of it. It's just that sometimes i want something that tastes a little better and get frustrated if I shell out the extra dollars without getting a wine that tastes any different.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Clinton
                                                                                                                                                                        westsidegal Jul 22, 2009 09:27 PM

                                                                                                                                                                        what's wrong with two buck chuck is that, to my palate, it is insipid.
                                                                                                                                                                        it isn't a matter of price, because my local wine shop, LA Wine Company, often carries some very cheap wines that actually taste good. . . .

                                                                                                                                                                        i hate 'spending' calories on meh wine or food.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Clinton
                                                                                                                                                                          alanbarnes Jul 23, 2009 04:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                                          There's nothing **wrong** with 2BC, it's just that there isn't a whole lot right with it, either. I'll go out on a limb and say that anybody who says it's consistently good doesn't have a particularly well-developed palate. On the other hand, anybody who says the stuff is consistently terrible is simply incorrect.

                                                                                                                                                                          Occasionally a decent bottle will show up, but 2BC is made with whatever grapes are available that week, so there's no consistency between runs. Back in the days when Hearty Burgundy was its main product, Gallo at least manipulated the wine from batch to batch to deliver a somewhat consistent flavor profile. Bronco doesn't do that.

                                                                                                                                                                          Your comment that critics "rate wines by the price rather than by taste" is misguided. Serious wine tastings are conducted blind. Some wine **drinkers** believe that more expensive wines are necessarily better. I put them in the same camp as the philistines who claim that Turning Leaf and DRC are interchangeable since they're both made from pinot noir grapes.

                                                                                                                                                                          That said, 2BC is my go-to cooking wine, and I don't mind drinking it if somebody's pouring it at a cookout. But it's never my first choice; there are much more interesting wines in the <$5 price category.

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