The Trader Joe’s 2013 Grand Reserve Meritage Napa Lot 63 2013 is a $12.99 TJ’s blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec (these are 5 of the 6 grapes approved for Bordeaux Red blends, the only grape missing is Carménère) sourced from vineyards somewhere in the Napa Valley of California. When dealing with Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve wines, the lot number is important since the name stays the same year after year, but the wine in the bottle can be different blends from different wineries, from different locations, each lot # is a different wine. A Meritage wine is a California version of the Red blends from Bordeaux, France, it allows you to directly compare Napa wines to French Bordeaux wines. This is a 2013 vintage (held back 4 years before being released) that was aged in French oak barrels for 22 months and that is not something easily found selling for $12.99 especially when you add Napa Valley into the equation. The back label says “vinted and bottled by” Our Cellars, Hopland, California, which does not tell you much since Hopland is in Mendocino, not Napa and vinted and bottled simply means they aged the wine for a period of time (not necessarily the whole 4 years) and they bottled the wine, nothing more. This is a wine that ,on paper, looks like it can be cellared for 10 years, if not longer and a Red wine with 4 years of bottle age will taste different than the usual younger, drink it now, Red blends in this price range. The alcohol content is 14.5%.
The color is black cherry red with a pink, almost clear halo. The nose is dark berries, cherry, plum, oak spice, black pepper, milk chocolate, bacon fat, and cherry cough drops. This is a dry, smooth Red blend with a nice bit of complexity to the flavors. It starts with raspberry, mocha, cola, spice, and pepper. The mid-palate adds blackberry, a little exotic spice, and chocolate custard. And that’s on the first sip, the 2nd sip might show a different array of flavors, these 5 grapes are working well together. The tannins are soft and the acidity is well-balanced with the weight of this wine. The finish is full and it ain’t going anywhere.
The Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve Meritage Napa Lot 63 2013 is a well made wine with tons of flavor. Pick up a couple of bottles for the upcoming holidays, it’s a $13 bottle of wine and you will receive compliments that are usually reserved for wines costing twice as much. Some wines that have been in French oak barrels for almost 2 years can taste a little out of balance when sampled young (for age worthy wines 4 years is young), but the Napa Lot 63 is drinking well, right now. This is a solid Napa Valley Meritage and at $13.99 this is a no-brainer, there is no reason not to give it a try.