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Trader Joe's Insider: Merlot Lover's Alert, Two Six Dollar Wines That Will Shock You

Updated on June 18, 2013

Two Vastly Different Merlots, Two Versatile, Balanced Meal Wines

Fellow wine lovers, first off, Happy New Year, and a banner one it'll be. Cin cin! Now let's talk wine, specifically Merlot, that wonderful Bordeaux varietal so bastardized in the all time classic, "Sideways." My background dealing with wine for Trader Joe's has led me back to the keyboard to share two delicious food loving T.J's wines that provide international flavor, perhaps a new experience(likely) and most certainly a "mmmmm" moment. One is a rich and bold offering from Italy that is finished with a varietal most sommeliers have never tried. The other is a well crafted example of the usually balanced, inexpensive wines that are available in Bordeaux, but not commonly in my native state of California.

2010 Dumeto Toscana $5.99

I know, everything about the price point makes you say, "no way!" Hear me out. This wine was a great buy and already significantly marked down when it was on the shelf at $9.99. Trader Joe's has been selling the Chianti Classico from this winemaker for years. A couple years back a Super Tuscan, Arcante(also nice) came in at $14.99, and this Dumeto came in at ten bucks. I loved it then as I do now, just now at a forty percent markdown. Why the markdown? What happens with Trader Joe's is that they pay cash for a vintage, the winery enjoys the large cash payment, and for whatever financial reason reapproach T.J's to sell another vintage. This is where T.J's will counter with a low offer, and often the probably distressed winery will accept the money. I watched this happen time and again, sometimes more than once with the same wine. Abracadabra, a ten dollar wine now costs six dollars, and it has nothing to do with quality. This wine is delicious.

Details: %90 Merlot, %10 Colorino(similar to Petit Verdot, it's used mostly in finishing blends for darker color, structure and body.)

Tasting notes: Dense, smoky cherry, dark, dark, dark... other red fruits and all of the complexity and finesse of traditional Merlot, with something else, something from the Colorino(certainly an inexpensive way to expand one's varietal palette at a low cost). There is a richness here that makes this really versatile food friendly vino a no brainer. Enjoy this one while it lasts.

2009 Chateaux Du Buisson Grand Vin Du Bordeaux $5.99

Details: Merlot %60, Cabernet Franc %25, Cacernet Sauvignon %15

The blend may remind you of a St. Emilion or a Fronsac, and it should because this estate is located nearby.

In Bordeaux, there are high quality, affordable wines everywhere. In the United States, there are plenty of great overpriced Bordeauxs to be found, but as far as value wines, they are few and far between. As far as a balanced, quality example of Bordeaux for under ten bucks, good luck. You might as well head to the horse track. Well, that is what is so great about this wine, and you better believe that this quality is directly related to how T.J's purchases wine. Your six dollars will get you that classic flavor profile.

Tasting notes: Dried red fruits, leather, oak, cherry and that barnyard essence so prevalent in this region. Incredibly dry, the rounded fruit profile of this wine flowers with savory dishes or indulgent cheeses.

These two wines are sure to tantalize your senses while they last. Until next time,

Cheers!

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    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Very interesting!