The 2012 Chariot Gypsy Red is a $4.99 Trader Joe’s exclusive. Every year since 2000, Jim Neal has been selling his Chariot Gypsy wines through Trader Joe’s. When it first debuted, $10 buck wines were an iffy proposition, a $4.99 wine and a Red wine to boot, that was flat out delicious was truly a revelation. 2 Buck Chuck appealed to wine drinkers who were concerned about price, Chariot Gypsy was a hit with wine drinkers who wanted great taste (and a cheap price). Over the years, the inexpensive wine market has vastly improved and the Chariot Gypsy Red no longer has the $5 wine segment to itself, there are many solid wines available for under ten bucks. The 2012 grape vintage in California is the best in years, so if ever a $4.99 Red blend was going to hit on all cylinders, this is the year. The alcohol content is 13.5%.
The color is a see-thru cherry red. The nose is maraschino cherries, a light floral edge, a hit of spice and fresh strawberry. This is a slightly sweet wine, not sugar sweet, but nectar sweet. It starts with ripe black cherry, raspberry, licorice and cranberry. It transitions in the mid palate to a soft splash of pepper, along with blueberry. The tannins are soft and the acidity is light. The finish is fairly full and lengthy.
The 2012 Chariot Gypsy Red is a tasty $4.99 wine, it has a touch of sweetness that should appeal to novice wine drinkers, while still having the flavor and structure more experienced wine drinkers look for. It is no longer the $4.99 beacon in a sea of lousy cheap wine, but it still a satisfying drink after a long hard day. As for food pairing, I had the Chariot Gypsy Red with a pumpkin spice muffin and it went surprisingly well.