Hillgate Roussanne 2011

This is a series of weekly bargain wine picks by the members of the Vintage Wine Tasting Club. We meet every other month for a formal tasting session but in between we communicate with each other whenever we discover a great wine bargain. We love the sport of bargain wine hunting. Here are our bargain wine picks from the past week.

Hillgate Roussanne 2011 – Trader Joe’s

Have you heard of Shannon Ridge Vineyards in the Lake County wine region of California? This is the winery that makes the Hillgate label found in Trader Joe’s stores. I verified this by calling Shannon Ridge and they said yes, they produce the Hillgate label. I also talked to Mike Wood, the winemaker at Shannon Ridge, and he said they make a Cabernet, a Zinfandel, and a Chardonnay along with this Roussanne wine that I purchased for $6.95 at my local TJ’s.

image of hillgate Roussanne

Hillgate 2011 Roussanne

This is quite a different-tasting white wine from the norm. Hardly anyone makes a Roussanne wine in California, Oregon or Washington. Most often Roussanne is blended with Marsanne and Viognier, but hardly ever in an amount large enough (75%) to label a wine as Roussanne. The Hillgate Roussanne, according to winemaker Mike Wood, is 78% Roussanne and 22% Viognier. The Hillgate Roussanne has a unique flavor and character. It is more old-world tasting in style. This wine has more peach and apple flavors as opposed to the grapefruit, grassy, citrus that you would find in a Sauvignon Blanc. Hillgate Roussanne is a distinctive wine and one I think is very worthy of trying, especially at the $6.95 price. I rate it at 87 points.

Shannon Ridge also makes the Vigilance label wines that BevMo sells and we think they are some of the better wines on the BevMo shelves, as is the Shannon Ridge Wrangler Red Wine often on sale at the Safeway for less than $10.

I visited the Shannon Ridge Wineries a couple of years back and for more information about this sustainable winery read this blog article

image of shannon ridge vines

At Shannon Ridge in Lake County

Besllum Montsant 2008

Another wine that I liked very much this past week was the Besllum 2008 Montsant wine that I purchased at Costco for $10.99. Robert Parker rated the wine at 93 points, so how could I pass up this wine at a measly $10.99? Besides, we are hoping to visit the Montsant wine region of Spain when we travel to Spain and France this October. This wine will be a good choice to sip while we plan our trip. The Besllum Montsant is a blend of 45% Grenache, 45% Carignan, and 10% Syrah and is aged in new French oak for 16 months. The wine has some nice gentle spice and black fruit aromas, and an elegant feel in the mouth. Perhaps the best characteristic of this wine is the finish. It’s a big finish, lasting long in the mouth. This wine is a well-balanced wine and very tasty in all respects. I am rating this wine at 88 points. This is a very good value at $10.99. Elsewhere this wine sells for as much as $17.99.

Nice red from Montsant

Nice red from Monstant

Cameron Hughes Lot 356 2010 Chalk Hill Merlot

I also drank the highly touted Cameron Hughes Lot 356 2010 Chalk Hill Merlot. Janelle and I disagreed on this wine. I thought it was totally out of balance with a ton of vanilla overpowering just about everything else in the wine. On the other hand, Janelle thought the vanilla spice was a very enjoyable characteristic in the wine.



  1. John Callegari says

    I read your review about the Hillgate Rousanne 2011. I drank a few bottles of Shannon Ridge 2008 Rousanne. Good wine for the price, I had to drive over the hill to Lake County to get it, but it was worth it. I have been looking in my local Trader Joe’s since reading your recent article. I asked about the wine; nobody seemed to know anything about it.What a shame that I didn’t get a chance to at least taste it. Oh well C’est la vie!

    • I know not all the TJ’s carry the Hillgate. I think it is up to the store manager what wines to stock from a list. I am glad you are enjoying the wine.

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