The Trader Joe’s Petit Reserve Paso Robles Zinfandel 2013 is a $7.99 Trader Joe’s exclusive sourced from 3 sections of a single vineyard in Paso Robles, California. A different Zinfandel clone was grown in each section, so this Zin is a blend of three Zinfandel variants. The back label says this wine was “vinted and bottled by Familia Nueva Vineyards, Creston, California, which is the name that a well-respected vineyard and winery in Paso Robles uses when they sell wine to Trader Joe’s. A quick check of their winery website (it’s not hard to find who they are with a little sleuthing on Google, they don’t want to be found out so I won’t tell) shows a $18 Zinfandel that was sourced from 3 sections of their estate vineyard. This bottling was aged in French and American oak for 19 months, but while the juice that was used for their Zin and the Trader Joe’s Zinfandel seem to be the same, there is no guarantee that the Trader Joe’s Zinfandel went thru all the same bells and whistles. Maybe it did and maybe it didn’t. Trader Joe’s ain’t telling and for an $11 discount it is not that important if the Trader Joe’s Zin had a different oak regimen. Then again, maybe it is the exact same wine as the $18 stuff. The alcohol content is 14.5%.
The color is a crystal clear, see-thru black cherry red. The nose is black cherry, black pepper, spice, a little menthol, raspberry jam and dark chocolate. This is a smooth, medium-bodied, dry Zinfandel upfront, with a solid dose of complexity following. It starts with ripe cherry, Dr. Pepper (but not so sweet), pepper and blackberry. The mid-palate comes alive with vanilla, spice, a little herbs and raspberry. The tannins are smooth and the acidity is well-balanced. The finish is fruit-forward and lingers for a respectable time.
The TJ’s Petit Reserve Paso Robles Zinfandel 2013 is well-balanced with a good blend of fruit and spice flavors, this is a grown-up Zinfandel, almost elegant, not at all like the big, bold, jammy Zins usually found in the lower price range. Not that I don’t like a big, bold, spicy Zinfandel now and again, but these classy Zinfandel’s made more in the Italian or French style really catch your attention. I am writing about a $7.99 wine, but I think at this point we know I am actually writing about a wine that sells closer to $20 and has all the nuances the extra attention can bring to a wine. If you like elegant Zinfandel and bargains, then the Petit Reserve is a wine you should try before Trader Joe’s runs out of their supply.