The Trader Joe’s Platinum Reserve Yountville Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 Lot 74 is a $14.99 Trader Joe’s exclusive, Yountville is one of the 16 sub-AVA’s inside Napa Valley. The typical Yountville Cabernet Sauvignon is a cellar worthy wine that sells for $50 and up, so is this a $50 wine that somehow is priced at $14.99? Trader Joe’s doesn’t say what vineyards provided the grapes or who the winery was, it was probably a custom, private label wine company, there are plenty to choose from in California. So I will do some Sherlock Holmesing and try to figure out just what this wine is about. First, Trader Joe’s says this Cabernet was aged in one year old used 50% French and 50% American oak barrels. The typical Yountville Cab probably was aged for something like a year and a half in a mix of new and used oak barrels. The Platinum Reserve is from the 2016 vintage, which was harvested about a year ago, the fermentation process had to take up some of that time and the wine needs to age in the bottle to allow all the oak influence to meld with the wine, so this wine was aged in barrel somewhere around 6 or 7 months. The current release for many Yountville Cabernet Sauvignon is the 2013 vintage, maybe the 2014, the Platinum Reserve is a 2016 vintage which is way too young for the typical Yountville Cab. Actually, the current “brand” wine with California on the label instead of an AVA designation is most likely to be a 2015 vintage. The TJ’s Platinum Cab is a very young wine with a fraction of the oak barrel aging as the $50 wines. Which actually is the definition of a “drink it now” wine, a wine that is at it’s best as soon as you buy it and probably won’t improve too much with age. One of the biggest advances in wine in the last 10 years has been the rise of the “drink it now“wines, winemakers have figured out how to produce consistently good value priced wines that taste like the expensive stuff. A $50 Yountville Cabernet Sauvignon selling for $14.99 would be a rare wine, but a “drink it now” wine using Yountville grapes is probably twice as rare. If Yountville Cabs can command 50 dollars and often much more a bottle, why bother with $14.99 wine, leave that to the California and Central Coast Cabernet. The alcohol content is a ripe 14.5%.
The color is an opaque crimson red with black highlights.The nose is raspberry, menthol, blackberry, vanilla, and a little oak spice. This is a full-bodied Cabernet with solid oak influence. It starts with ripe blackberry, mocha, plum, and chocolate. The mid-palate brings tart cherry, cashews, Nestle’s Quick powder, and a slap of herbs. The tannins are surprisingly smooth and the acidity is well-balanced. The finish is full and goes on and on.
Here is the thing about cellar worthy wine, it’s made to be insanely awesome 15 years from now, they are often not very pleasant to drink when they are young, the premise here is good things come to those that wait. Now I can not tell you I have sampled one year old $50+ Yountville Cabs, they are hard to find unless you get a barrel tasting at the winery. But I think it’s fairly safe to say that the Trader Joe’s Platinum Reserve Yountville Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 Lot 74 drinks better than any other 1-year-old Yountville Cab, actually most of them are still aging in oak barrels and have not even been bottled yet, much less released for sale. But as a “drink it now” wine using Yountville grapes it’s a damn good Cabernet Sauvignon. The Yountville grapes gives this Cabernet flavors and characteristics that you seldom get in other Cabs in the price range. This may not be an age worthy wine, but if you want it now and you want Napa sub-AVA grapes, it drinks real good, right now.