It’s that time again for a new installment of our cityseekr featured series, Wine for the Weekend. Last time we gave you our impressions on two delicious wines from Bogle Vineyards on the Sacramento Delta. This week we’ll be looking at two wines selected from the shelves of Trader Joe’s: Acre Russian River Chardonnay and a Shiraz from a favorite label of mine, Red Diamond. Both wines can be had for a mere $7.99 each, or perhaps even less.
In addition to being featured on TJ’s “Frequent-Flyer” mailer, the cashier mentioned that the staff had a tasting event earlier that week and the Acre Chardonnay was a favorite among most of them. It was hard to determine if this sudden showering of praise upon this lesser-known chardonnay was indeed authentic, or merely a ploy to quickly sell the bottles they have. After tasting the wine for myself, I came to the conclusion that perhaps it was a mixture of both.
The 2011 Acre Russian River Valley Chardonnay (ABV: 13.5%) is an exclusive among Trader Joe’s much celebrated stock of affordable, but delicious wines–known colloquially as “Two-Buck Chuck.” There is some mystery surrounding who actually makes the wine, given that the bottle is an exact replica of the much more expensive wines produced by the now-defunct Acre Wine Company. However, despite the confusion surrounding the wine’s genesis, it really isn’t that bad at all. I’ll be the first to admit that Chardonnay is not my favorite grape, and while some winemakers really understand how to bring out its subtle complexities, a much larger number, in my opinion, can’t seem to get it right at all. Like the reasoning behind Trader Joe’s sudden “craze” for this particular wine, I feel that the Acre Chard doesn’t necessarily get it right, or wrong–but somehow meets somewhere in the middle. Don’t look for something to knock your socks off, but also, don’t expect to spit out your first sip. I’d recommend this as the perfect PC wine to bring to a party or event.
Label: 5/5 (Despite being a copy, the label is indeed quite attractive)
Aroma: 4/5 (Nice, complex fruity/floral aroma)
Flavor: 3/5 (A little too dry for me; flavors tend to messily blend together instead of remaining distinct)
As I mentioned earlier, my experiences with the Red Diamond label have always been good. I’ve tried many of their reds and whites (their white wines are inferior, in my opinion, to the reds) but never happened to stumble upon the 2008 Red Diamond Shiraz offering until only recently. Shiraz is another name for the Syrah grape, which is a personal favorite of mine. I typically enjoy the peppery and rich flavors that often accompany the wines made from these particular grapes. However, I never really tasted a Shiraz that had such full-bodied, fruit-like qualities as this charming Red Diamond selection. In fact, the hints of pepper and chocolate I had come to expect from Syrah/Shiraz was noticibly subdued if not completely absent–which, to me, was unfortunate. However, the refreshingly smooth texture of the wine combined with a very distinct flavor of blackberries in the finish made this Red Diamond selection a very graceful and elegant wine for the price.
Label: 4/5 (Very interesting, if somewhat uninspired, minimalist design; the red and black colors are, of course, eye-catching)
Aroma: 3/5 (Nothing particularly captivating about the aroma; a rush of berries with a hint of spice)
Flavor: 4/5 (One point off due to a personal preference for a spicier Shiraz, but the flavor of this one is nothing short of smooth and delicious)
That about does it for this entry in our continuing series on delicious wines you can score on the cheap. As always, your comments and suggestions are always welcome. We hope you enjoy!