TJ’s All Days

What sort of human doesn’t shop at Trader Joe’s? The sort of vampiric human who hates parking lot traffic, daylight, and shopping before 10:30pm, that’s who. But! ALL the grocery stores are closing early now. If I were a true vampire, I wouldn’t starve to death even if I had to find food at night seeing as true vampires (so real) don’t eat regular human food. But I am merely a pale goth, not a real (they SO exist) vampire. So as long as I have to shop by day I figured, why not give TJ’s a shot? Plus, I kept getting requests for this column from friends. So seeing as I am a praise seeker and people pleaser I decided to find some good value wines. I saw a lot of reputable brands on the shelves and am happy to tell you that if you are willing to spend more, you can be guaranteed to be getting reasonable wine. But! I wanted to stick to a budget that was lean. I decided I could buy wines 4.99-15 dollars, although most I bought were under ten. No, I did not buy any Charles Shaw. There are numerous articles out there where wine experts try them and give opinions. I did taste some recently and as I recall it wasn’t wine. So if you are curious get Google-y and some other writer will quench your cheapass thirst. Wow, I am coming off like a bougey grump. I don’t shop at TJ’s, I won’t review its most renowned wines…I promise I’m only a little that bad. I recognized a lot of things I have tried and found pleasant before: Line39 , Freixenet , Miraval , Chateau St Michelle , A to Z , Louis M. Martini …plus, a lot of stuff you saw in last year’s May Day column on finding wine in unexpected places, like Walgreens, is at Trader Joe’s. And if you are willing to spend more, they have some of what I think of as “the stuff most grocery stores have locked up” like Stag’s Leap Cellars . Hot tips: look for wine from regions that aren’t super famous that aren’t the cheapest but hardly high priced, and you can sometimes find really good quality for price. I adopted that philosophy after visiting Portugal. Also, grapes you don’t know are sometimes better value for money. Verdejo ? Petit Verdot ? These things can’t rely on their name to sell them so they will possibly be higher quality for price. So what Trader Joe’s wine was my shower sipper? I’m gonna go with the Tavel because I nearly always love Tavel, ergo it gets to see me naked. And now, the rest of the Trader Joe’s haul: ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Segura Viudas Brut Cava Very apples and peaches and toast. In fact, maybe it is a maceration of apples and peaches ON lightly toasted…rye? It’s not brioche but bready with an earthier nature. If you want traditional method bubbles, Cava is often good quality for price and at 8 dollars, this doesn’t disappoint. La Burgondie Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Réserve 100% I do cosign on this. It has balance, it has complexity, to an extent, and it is just downright pleasant. Ten bucks y’all. Good acid, good bubbs. Lemons and crumpets topped with a little honey and eaten near…chalk? Sure why not. Get it. Value bubbles. 2018 Moulin Jamet Sancerre At about 14 bucks a higher end spend, although not a bad price for Sancerre. Lots of lemon and peaches. On the palate it has a streak of smoky minerality and a more full-bodied Sauvignon Blanc than I get from other regions. This one drinks like a meal. A white wine meal. 2018 Sauvignon de Seguin Vin de Bordeaux Very citrus-y with just a hint of that grassiness and an undercurrent that feels somewhere between cold wet rocks and almost a hint of yeastiness. No fake oak here. Just a rather fresh and refreshing basic b Savvy B. Summer water that isn’t rosé for a mere seven bucks. 2018 Vignobles & Compagnie Réserve de Chastelles Tavel Oh wow, a Tavel! That glorious Southern Rhone region that only makes the pink stuff. At nine bucks! And actually it’s quite pleasant. Biting citrus fruit and raspberries. A bit of melon and pepper. Big hit of acid at the end. A bit of a hint of cream or fleshiness. And lime zest. What well-versed Tavel. Reine de Fleurs Rosé From the Languedoc! Often, another good value region. My notes say seashell and wet stone and stone fruit but most of all floral. Quite tasty and complex for 7 buckasmackaroos. 2018 Cline “Ancient Vines” Contra Costa County Zinfandel Purple-y and the right amount of raisin and freshness all play a part, and hi there is some vanilla too. Super fun. Lots of baking spice and such on the nose. And then…yeah it’s balanced and tasty. Some licorice for sure. And compote blueberry compote, that’s cool. It was 13 dollars. I’d spend again. 2015 Corte Rossa Barolo Wait…12 dollar Barolo…what? I have tasted quality examples of Nebbiolo from the Langhe at that price point but…never seen a Barolo at this price point, I don’t think. I was surprised how much this pushed my Nebbiolo buttons. And I have a lot of Nebbiolo buttons to be pushed. In a blind tasting I’d be tempted to call it a Sangiovese of some ilk from Tuscany, as it is a bit more mellow-hearted than some Barolos, babies at five years. Cherries, high acid, Barolo-strength tannins that are not too too aggressive, herbs, and cherry cola. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Want to read more from Ellen? Check out her recent articles: Old World vs. New World: Sauvignon Blanc Fast Food Slow Wine: Let’s Support Local Pizza! Old World vs. New World: Pinot Noir Part Deux Old World vs. New World: Pinot Noir Part One Quaran-wine Pastimes It's Okay to Like Pinotage You can also listen to Ellen's podcast , The Wine Situation here . Check out her recent transcripts of the Final Five questions: Wine Situation Final Five! With Victoria James Wine Situation Final Five! With Carrie Dykes

Corte Rossa

Barolo Nebbiolo 2015

I might be tempted to call it a Sangiovese if blinded on it, but I was rather shocked how good this was for the price... — 3 years ago

Eric, Ron and 26 others liked this

Vignobles & Compagnie

Réserve des Chastelles Tavel Rosé Blend 2018

Shockingly for the price. Mostly fruity—red berries, sweet grapefruit, served up in a cantaloupe bowl and garnished with pure whipped cream. Dry desserts. — 3 years ago

Stanley, David and 10 others liked this

Segura Viudas

Metodo Tradicional Cava Blend

Solidly a cava I’d have back to the party. Apples, peaches and toast, balanced with earth and acid. — 3 years ago

Eric, Ron and 15 others liked this

Reine des Fleurs

Rosé Blend

Not bad for 7 bucks. Quite good in fact. Very minerally and floral all at once which I do declare, is a good combo. — 3 years ago

Eric, Paul and 14 others liked this

Cline Cellars

Ancient Vines Contra Costa County Zinfandel 2018

Zin goodness. Classic Zin goodness. It’s like the well worn blue jeans of Zins. Comfortable, friendly, familiar and casual. That’s a lie I hate blue jeans and really like this wine but I hear normal people do like jeans, very blueberry, vanilla scented, and there’s so raisins and licorice to boot. Oh maybe this is the perfect pair well-worn boots. As opposed to jean. Yeah that’s it.
On another note, has anyone actually worn blue jeans or boots since pandemic?
— 3 years ago

Eric, Paul and 15 others liked this
Ellen Clifford

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@Vasanth Balakrishnan nice, yeah you gotta love a good zin!
Paul T- Huntington Beach

Paul T- Huntington Beach

Ran out of 😷 so I used cut up blue jeans with some leather from the boots instead.
Ellen Clifford

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@Paul T- Huntington Beach oh good as long as you have a glass of Zin on the side you should be okay

Moulin Jamet

Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc 2018

Bougie Sancerre night. But also not because it is from Trader Joe’s. Not bad. Like much Sancerre these days I feel like it...doesn’t taste like what I think of when I drink Sancerre. Tasty enough though with an oddly bit not unpleasant mouth coating minerality. I’ll take it. — 3 years ago

Paulo, Neil and 16 others liked this