The Tribunal Red Wine, $9.99, is now on the shelves at Northern California Trader Joe’s stores. This is our third vintage review of this wine, the so-called “clone” of Orin Swift’s popular Prisoner wine ($38). We loved the 2009 but thought the 2010 was just okay. How will the Tribunal 2011 taste and how will it stack up to the past two vintages?
There is something different that caught my eye on the label of the Tribunal 2011. The 2009 and 2010 wines were labeled Red Wine Sonoma County. The 2011 Tribunal is labeled Red Wine North Coast. That means that 85% of the grapes in the wine must come from the North Coast Appellation. Where specifically? As you can well imagine, this a huge wine region compared to the Sonoma County AVA of previous vintages. The North Coast AVA includes Lake County, Marin, Mendocino, Napa, Solano and Sonoma Counties.
I asked one of the TJ staff members at my local store for the exact blend and he politely obliged: 25% Syrah, 24% Zinfandel, 22% Merlot, 17% Petite Sirah, 8% Dolcetto, and the final 4% made up of unknown grapes. The alcohol on this vintage comes in at 15.1%. I would love to know how the winemaker came to choosing this particular blend. Is the winemaker truly trying to make a copycat of the popular Prisoner Wine?
The back label tells us that the wine is produced and bottled by Tribunal Cellars of Kenwood, California. Do a Google Search for this winery and you will absolutely not find it. Does it exist only on paper? It seems likely this is a Trader Joe’s exclusive and that Trader Joe’s probably arranged for its production under this label.
Review of the Tribunal Red Wine 2011
Right off the top, the wine has spice aromas along with fresh fruit flavors. In the mouth the wine is rather mellow and very pleasant. You need to taste and savor a few sips to get a feel for the flavors in this wine. Janelle and I found red and dark fruit, a bit of vanilla, maybe cedar, and pepper spice. The finish is medium and smooth. The wine is balanced, with no significant flaws. The Tribunal will match well with chicken dishes, pasta and pizzas.
I think this wine is a much better effort than the 2010 but short of the 2009. At this price of $9.99, I do believe the wine is a good value. If you are in a TJ’s, try one bottle for yourself. If you like the style, buy more, because chances are the wine will not last too long on the shelves. It is made to satisfy many palates. I’m giving the Tribunal 88 Points.
Let us know what you think of this wine. Please add your thoughts in the comment section.