VINTJS Petite Sirah 2013

From the Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer:  “When you see the VINTJS label on a bottle of wine at Trader Joe’s, you can be sure of a couple of things right off the bat. One, that wine is a good example of the best of what you’ll find from its appellation, and two, that wine represents a stellar value you’ll find only at Trader Joe’s. . . . Using grapes from their vineyards along Monterey County’s coastal mountain ranges, where a cooler climate gives the grapes a chance to ripen slowly and develop more intense fruit flavors, the winemakers have crafted a hefty, almost chewy red, full-bodied and fruit forward yet decidedly dry, aged for nine months in American and Hungarian oak barrels. Rather than a straightforward Petite Sirah, which would be a much bigger wine than its name would suggest, they’ve opted here to blend in a bit of Merlot, Syrah, and a splash of Viognier ….”

Oenophilogical_VINTJSPetiteSirah2013Winemaker: VINTJS (aka Trader Joe’s)
Varietal: Petite Sirah
Vintage: 2013
Appellation: Monterey, California
Price: $6.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes: This wine was 90.7% Petite Sirah with 4.6% Merlot, 2.8% Syrah, and 1.9% Viognier.  At almost 91% Petite Sirah, I think it definitely deserved a varietal label rather than that of a blend.  In the lovely, full bouquet of this VINTJS I detected scents of dark, juicy berries and forest floor.  It was a very dark-colored wine in the glass as well with medium body and good acidity.  Tannins were also medium.  Flavors for me included cherry, black currant, and oak along with a medicinal note and a zing of pepper on the finish.  Despite it being a dry wine at 14.5% alcohol, it had a touch of sweetness on the palate, too.  I agree with the Trader Joe’s folks that this wine was most certainly a value purchase.

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A Homespun Home-fun Xmas Eve

My sweetheart and I celebrated the holidays quietly at home this year.  Thus, we decided to make it a full-fledged staycation featuring plenty of food and time together.

oenophilogical_xmaseve16Our Xmas Eve celebration, then, began around noon with preparations for an early homestyle dinner – 5:00 ish.   Our kitchen is very small: we are not. Since we were sharing the responsibility for dishes, we had to work out a kitchen schedule.  What a fun challenge for us and a test of our collaborative skills.  I’m happy to say we passed the test!

The dinner was a simple one consisting of crab cakes (from our local Whole Foods seafood section), pearl couscous with mixed bell peppers, and a cucumber/radish salad.  It doesn’t seem that difficult at first blush till you factor in the substitutions we had to make (because we really are follow-the-recipe cooks) plus our “make ahead” work on dishes for Xmas Day dinner.  After much excitement, we finally got the meal on the table around 6:00 … maybe 6:30.  I confess the delay was mostly my fault.  With our meal we enjoyed a bottle of Vermentino from Trader Joe’s under the VINTJS  label.

After dinner, we finished watching the first season of “The Crown.”  This TV show is one of the best historical dramas I’ve ever seen.  If you like the genre, you should see it.  Sumptuous cinematography and solid performances across the board.

Then we put together a little snack tray of cheese, crackers, prosciutto, and nuts.  After all, we’d worked hard on the couch helping get Queen Elizabeth through the trials and tribulations of her early reign.  Next we turned out all the lights except the tree and sang our favorite Xmas carols.  And that was that!  Time to hit the hay and rest up for our Xmas Day festivities.

oenophilogical_vintjsvermintino2015Winemaker:  VINTJS
Varietal:  Vermentino
Vintage:  2015
Appellation:  Lodi, California
Price:  $7.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  For me, this light white had a strong, zingy bouquet of citrus, peach and spice.  On the tongue I tasted orange, grass, and citrus zest.  It had a surprisingly long and pleasant finish as the orange lingered on the palate.  I liked this VINTJS Vermentino.  I was a little surprised that the piquancy of the bouquet didn’t translate fully to the tongue, but perhaps that’s just part of it’s character.

 

Vintjs Old Vine Zinfandel 2012

Years ago, when I was in the very early stages of my wine journey, Zinfandel was the first varietal that truly caught my interest.  Ever since, it has remained a wine that I enjoy exploring.  Back in those early days I liked Chardonnay, found Pinot Noir to be very nice, and considered Cabernet Sauvignon an interesting wine.  Yet it was my early experiences with California Zinfandel that really tickled my taste buds.  Can’t remember now what those first few Zins were, their vintner’s, etc.  I will say that their mix of fruit and (for me as a novice) unexpected non-fruit flavors proved a tremendous playground for my developing palate.  My palate is, of course, still developing as I continue to learn more about wine and it’s many splendors.

Vineyard: Vintjs
Wine:  Old Vine Zinfandel
Varietal: Zinfandel
Vintage: 2012
Appellation: Lodi, California
Price: $7.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  It’s color was a dark ruby.  The bouquet was very floral with menthol, pine sap, forest berries, and damp forest floor (sous bois).  On the tongue it’s heft was light-to-medium with high acidity.  Alcohol was at 14.5%.  As for the flavors I found, I thought this a rather “round” flavor profile with distinct zingy notes.  To me it had a core of black raspberry fruit and a mid-palate bready/muffiny taste.  There was also plenty of menthol, pepper, and some pine along with a lengthy finish of dried cranberry.  I enjoyed this budget Zin quite a bit for it’s surprising complexity and lengthy finish.  I think this would be another potential to accompany a holiday meal, especially if you find yourself a little short on cash after purchasing your holiday gifts.  [Many of us do!]  Give it a try, and see what you think.