The Miami area of Pinecrest recently added a Trader Joe’s to the discount grocery mix. As a long time fan of Aldi markets [in Europe and USA] I was excited about this addition. Aldi and Trader Joe’s share a relation. Owned by 2 brothers the company was split into Aldi North and Aldi South in the 1960s. The Aldi store is more bargain style and Trader Joe’s goes more for the trendy audience. Both specialize in private label items.
Unfortunately our Miami/Pinecrest store got off to a rough start due to its shortage of parking spaces for patrons. Many cars were towed during the first few weeks and quite honestly I do not know how the city permitted construction of this site with so little parking. That said, this small store [drug store size] was nicely decorated inside with aisles roomy enough to get around. Since this is a “wine” review I will not bore you with the specifics of my comparison shopping. But, a somewhat obvious disclaimer here is the fact that I work for Whole Foods Market. Many compare the two but the truth is they are very different. I’d also like to add that I was an Aldi fan long before I ever dreamed of joining the WFM team.
Wine! I was very impressed with the size of their vino area, about eight times bigger than the wine areas of the Aldi’s I have frequented. The majority of the wines being exclusive or private labels for Trader Joe’s. All inexpensively priced. Surprisingly the well-known wines they carry are priced the same or even higher than at Whole Foods and other local merchants.
The majority of my time in the store was of course spent in this area reviewing all they had to offer. Should I buy an under $20 Chateauneuf du Pape or even a Barolo under $15.00? In the spirit of this shopping excursion I decided to budget myself at a whopping $5. Per bottle of course and somehow limited myself to only two.
First up is Puglia’s 2012 GRIFONE Primitivo labelled “From old vine Zinfandel”. As regular readers probably know I am a big fan of Zinfandel a.k.a. Primitivo which would explain my grabbing this $4.99 bottle without thinking twice.
Later that night with company over and cork popped, everyone truly enjoyed this wine. Only one flaw; among Zinfandel fans no one could name the varietal including myself if I had not been the purchaser. Is it an easy drinker? Heck yeah. Would I serve it again? Ditto! But this fruit forward, medium bodied, low tannin wine was very un-Zinfandel like. Spice? Earthiness? Peppery? All nowhere to be found. I’ve read that the 2010 was a tad more rustic so my notes could be due to the 2012 vintage. Below are some other opinions I found:
From Cheap Wine Finder
The color is cherry red with black highlights. The nose is dark berries with a little chocolate powder and spearmint chewing gum, This is a soft, smooth, medium bodied wine with a slight rough edge on the mid palate. It tastes of black cherry, a little tart cranberry and a touch of cola. The mid plate offers are a dusty slap form the tannins and a final dash of sweet strawberry. The acidity is balanced and the finish is a little watery and fades a bit too soon.
From the Savy Lush
The taste of this Primitivo is fairly mild with notes of cherry and jammy spice. The nose isn’t anything special, and finish is rather fleeting but really, who cares?!? Easy drinking, smooth and pleasing, this is classic “Skank”. But, if you’re truly worried, make sure you have some dark chocolate on hand-never a bad idea.
So my final verdict would be: very drinkable, an easy drinker, great for large crowds [parties], excellent way to spend $5.00, just do not call it Zinfandel/Primitivo.
Next up we have a Sangiovese, one of Italy’s most planted grape varietals, from Tuscany. D’Aquino Gaetano Sangiovese di Toscana 2012. D’Aquino, in this case is also the wine importers name.
The Sangiovese flavor profile usually includes; cherry, plum, cinnamon, vanilla and some herbaceousness. Unfortunately I noted very few of these qualities.
My Notes: Light in color and body. Red fruit on nose, more so on palate but not much else. Fruity with a cherry finish. Not much development as it opened, status-quo as time passed.
Winemaker notes: This is a fruity, red wine made from the best-known grape varieties. It is brilliantly red with good intensity and has lively, fresh, and full-bodied taste. It is ideal for everyday drinking with most foods and in particular pasta dishes.
The D’Aquino was in no way poor but at the same time it did not have any personality. Not a wine you would look forward to having again but a vino that may actually fall into the $5 wine category. OUCH: Now that the developing wine snob in me let that slip out I must admit to having had wines much more expensive with the same issue. Drinkable? Sure. Would I buy it again? I have to admit I would most likely not.
I have plenty of friends that swear by the TJ private label product line. As I was mentally planning my reviews a fellow blogger also posted about Trader Joe wines. Luckily wines that he had recently discovered and enjoyed. Check out Talk-A-Vino’s; Trader Joe’s Wines – Again Exceeding Expectations.
All said and done not bad for my investment of $4.99 times two. Would I try more TJ wines? Definitely. Their reduced pricing structure is hard to refuse. Luckily for me this new store is not nearby. Luckily for my bank account if it were I could do some damage $5 at a time. ¡SALUD!