Trader Joe’s Wine Recommendations or Not

A few of our Vintage Wine Club members have some reviews of various Trader Joe’s wines they have recently purchased and tasted. These wines can be found in most San Francisco Bay Area Trader Joe’s stores.

From Mike:

Emergence White – $4.99 (Was $6.99 but recently reduced)
When I first tasted this wine it was chilled to the max. I thought the wine was simple and rather dull. Last night I had the wine at room temp and it was exceptional. It has mixed flavors of mild fruit and stone. While not a big wine, it has a bit of complexity due to the mix of grapes in the blend. Do not chill the heck out of it. I am going to keep a hand full of bottles around and try it over the next few months. This Rhone-style white is a blend of Grenache Blanc 33%, Marsanne 29%, Viognier 25% and Roussanne 13%, all from the Paso Robles area. Recommended

Tribunal 2008 Red Wine – $9.99
According to the TJ’s wine guy at our store this wine is a try at replicating Orin Swift’s famous The Prisoner. The blend according to him is the same as that of Prisoner but who knows for sure if he is right. The wine is excellent red wine. I did not get the aroma or taste of a dominant grape, Zin, Cab, Syrah, but the blend is outstanding and the oak is not over the top. The flavors are full berry and the wine has lots of glycerin and sticks to the walls of the glass. It is not watered down in anyway that I can detect. For $10 you could waste your money on lots of lesser varietal wines that do not produce the fruit, mouth feel and finish of this wine. This wine will go fast at Trader Joe’s. My local has only five cases to sell. Highly recommended

From Ray:

Trader Joe’s has offered a 2005 La Loggia Brunello on sale this month for $12.99 that I just had to try. At this price point, it’s very unusual to find the strictly-regulated DOCG Brunello for under $40. Made primarily from Sangiovese grapes, the usual Barolo will take years of bottle ageing to reach its perfection. In its youth, it’s characterized by strong tannins. What should have tipped me off is that this is not a Brunello di Montalcino, the prime terroir of the great Brunellos. The wine is quite frankly a pleasant 14.0 % alcohol Sangiovese that is ready to drink now. It does not exhibit those varietal characteristics that a real Brunello would. I think that you can easily find both Italian and American Sangioveses either at or below the TJ cost that will be comparable. Recommend with Reservations

From Joe:

Woodenhead 2008 Mendonoma Zinfandel
This wine is 50% Mendocino Zin and 50% Sonoma Zinfandel and labeled as North Coast. I have visited the Woodenhead tasting room in the Russian River Valley on two occasions. Woodenhead is noted for its Pinot Noir wines; they are wonderful but all are above $40 and well beyond. Their Zinfandel wines are also excellent but priced in the $34 to $42 category. When I saw this Woodenhead Zinfandel for $9.99 on the shelf at TJ’s, I jumped on it hoping that the wine might be as good as the Zins I’d tasted at their tasting room. Could this be a steal, a bargain hunter’s delight? We opened a bottle to have with our dinner this past week. Ninety percent of the wine still remains in the bottle. Enough said! Not Recommended


  1. Great idea to have guests share their opinions on bargain wines. Mike, thanks for the tip on the Emergence White. I’ll pick up a few bottles to have on hand with the extra $$$ I’ll save not buying the Brunello.

  2. I just saw your suggestion on Tribunal. We were at TJ’s just an hour ago and was talked into buying the Tribual by our guy. He only had 5 bottles left. Boo hoo.

  3. I got the Tribunal about a month ago and was blown away. Went back a few days later and it was gone. Now they have it again, and the wine guy at my TJ’s said he was going to get more sometime in the future. I had no idea about it mimicking the Prisoner, but I’d say they did a good job, because Prisoner is one of my favorite wines, and the Tribunal is (of course) not as good, but it really got my attention at 10 bucks!

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