Grifone Sangiovese 2012

You may or may not have noticed, but I’ve been making my way through some inexpensive Sangiovese wines of late.  The goal is to learn a little more about the wine as well as what is available to the budget-minded consumer in this varietal.  I realize that to learn more, I’ll have to splurge a bit.  And I will, I will.  Of course, there is also the whole Chianti thing.  Since many of the Chianti selections are blends, however, I’m sticking to the single varietal Sangiovese right now to help me understand this grape and the kind of wine it becomes.  My exploration of this varietal is precisely why I couldn’t pass up this selection.

Winemaker: Grifone by Roccadoro (Castellani)
Varietal: Sangiovese
Vintage: 2012
Appellation:  Puglia IGT, Italy
Price: $4.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  This cheap Italian was dark red in the glass.  I’d compare it to a velvet curtain in a traditional opera house.  That shade of red.  On the nose I found violets, plum and pepper.  The body was very light but with a gentle plushness on the tongue.  Acidity was good.  Alcohol was at 12.5%.  Tannins were moderate but distinctly present.  As far as flavors I detected, there was an overarching woodiness (think dried twigs) to the wine, some pleasant plum, and a touch of pepper.  The finish was a mix of tart and bitter much like pomegranate.  This is definitely a good value.  Amazing?  No.  Decent?  You bet!

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25 Inexpensive Wines From Trader Joe’s

It’s always a good feeling to reach a goal.  Some months ago I set a goal of tasting 25 inexpensive wines from my local Trader Joe’s.  In the interim, my liver and my taste buds have been put to the test.  Ha!  With the posting on Sauvignon de Seguin Bordeaux 2012, I have made it across the finish line!!

Now even though I’ve reached my goal, I’m not swearing off drinking wines from Trader Joe’s.  No, no!  But I thought after 25, I should take a breather and – more importantly – a moment to reflect on the wines.  And in reflecting back, I’m going to do something uncharacteristic for this blog – I’m going to rate them, kinda.  Not on a point system or a buy/don’t buy.  I don’t do that here because I’m a wine enthusiast not a wine pro.  But I am going to identify what for me were the top 5 wines out of the 25 I tried.  Why?  Well, why did the Apollo astronauts put a flag on the moon?  In part, as a record of the journey!   So here goes …

1.  Château Haut Blaignan Bordeaux 2011

2.  Red Truck Red Wine 2009

3.  Sauvignon de Seguin Bordeaux 2011

4.  Alamos Malbec 2012

5.  Roccadoro (Castellani) Grifone Primitivo 2011

If you want to read the notes about my experience with each, you can click through using the link on the wine’s name.  I realize there is just one white wine represented in the 5.  The Joseph Händler Riesling 2012 almost made this list but just missed the top 5.  And if I were doing top 10, the Contadino Pinot Grigio delle Venezie 2012  and the Trader Joe’s Viñas Chilenas Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2012 would have been contenders.  But my top 5 out of 25 are heavily red and broadly international with 2 French, 1 Italian, 1 Argentinian, and 1 Californian.

For those of you who are visiting oenophilogical for the first time, this is not a blog about the wines at Trader Joe’s.  Far from it!  Scroll down this site, and you’ll see what I mean.  For those of you who are Trader Joe’s shoppers, however, the other wines from TJ’s I’ve swigged so far are listed below – in no particular order.  If I’ve missed your favorite(s), please drop me a note here.  I’m always grateful for recommendations!

OK, then!  Here’s wishing you many good wine adventures!

La Granja 360 Tempranillo 2011
Trader Joe’s Coastal Syrah 2011
Gaetano D’Aquino Orvieto Classico 2012
La Ferme Julien Vin Blanc 2011
Archeo Ruggero di Tasso Nero d’Avola 2011
Trader Joe’s Viñas Chilenas Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2012
Villa Cerrina Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2011
Contadino Pinot Grigio delle Venezie 2012
Trader Moon, Honey Moon Viognier 2011
Gaetano D’Aquino Sangiovese di Toscana 2010
Joseph Händler Riesling 2012
Coppola Red Label Zin 2010
Les Portes de Bordeaux Bordeaux 2009
Terrenal Chardonnay 2012
Le Grotte Lambrusco dell’Emilia Bianco Dolce
Rocca del’Olmo Barbera d’Asti 2010
Hans Lang Edition Maximilian Pinot Noir 2009
Panilonco Merlot-Malbec Reserva 2011
Purple Moon Shiraz 2011
Albero Tempranillo 2010

Important: I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur. See “About” for the full disclaimer.

Grifone Primitovo 2011

To quote the manager of the wine department at my local Trader Joe’s, “this is the best red wine I have under $5.”  So clearly I had to give it a try!  Although that may not be much of a comparison in most stores, at Trader Joe’s it’s a claim worth considering.  Here’s what I found.

Winemaker: Roccadoro (Castellani)
Wine: Grifone Primitivo
Vintage: 2011
Appellation: Puglia, Italy IGT
Price: $4.45 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  I smelled cherry & spice in the bouquet of this medium-bodied red wine from Puglia, Italy in the heel of the boot.  On first pour, the chief flavor I tasted was black tea.  There was also an underlying dark cherry which started coming to the fore and then brightened into pleasing ripe strawberry and red currant as the wine breathed.  It definitely has tannins which give the wine a lingering finish, but I would say they are on the moderate side (esp. by comparison with Zins made here in the U.S.).  Speaking of the finish, I tasted a very interesting and haunting spiced orange.  Although the label is bright orange in color, I don’t think it was just subliminal suggestion!  The wine is 13% alcohol and 100% Primitivo (aka Zinfandel) from old vines.  I wanted to find out more about this winery and saw that the folks at Jascots Wine Merchants, a UK wine seller, attribute Grifone Primitivo to Castellani.

Important:  I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  See “About” for the full disclaimer.