The Charles Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 is, of course, a Trader Joe’s $2.99 (in Chicago) exclusive, June of 2018 will mark the 16th year of Chuck and Joe’s relationship. I must admit to not being a 2 Buck Chuck fan, there are other very inexpensive wines at TJ’s that I prefer (the LaGranja 360 wines in particular), but I was intrigued that the current vintage is a 2014. There are $15 or $20 Cabs on the store shelves that are the 2015 vintage, why on earth does Charles Shaw have 3 years + of bottle age? I half expected this Cabernet to be starting to lose its bloom, maybe be a bit raisiny, with the fruit flavors beginning to degrade, but after popping the top (there is an actual cork, not a great quality one, but one that more than does the job) I think this Cab Sauv is actually going to be fine. With a name like CheapWineFinder you would figure that we would be prime targets for 2 (actually 3) Buck Chuck, but the “cheap wine” in the name is a Google search term, it helps us be found on the internet. Like searching for cheap airfare, you aren’t looking for a cut-rate airline that just might crash, you want the best price to your destination or searching for cheap hotel does not mean you want a flea ridden hotel in the scary part of town, you want the best combination of quality and price. And that is the meaning behind CheapWineFinder.com, it’s about good quality wine for a good price. The alcohol content for the Charles Shaw Cab is a subdued for a California Cab 12.5%.
The color is dark, barely see-thru black cherry red with dark highlights. The nose is blackberry, licorice, vanilla, and a light hit of pepper spice. This is a medium-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon, fruit-forward, but not out of balance, with decent tannins and structure. It tastes of a mix of blackberry and very ripe blueberry, French vanilla, raspberry jam (not sugar sweet) and very mild spice. There is no transition to a mid-palate, what is upfront continues thru the length of the wine, but what is upfront is very drinkable. The acidity is balanced, pair this with burger, pizza, steak burritos, that sort of thing. The finish is full and lasts a fairly long time.
Spending $2.99 for a drinkable/enjoyable Red American wine is amazing, it’s commonplace in Spain, France or Italy, but super hard to pull off in California, but this Charles Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 manages to get the job done. One problem that I have had with Charles Shaw wines in the past is that they not only have quality issues from vintage to vintage, but from bottle to bottle. That is one of the reasons why Trader Joe’s has a no questions return policy. I still prefer spending a few bucks more for my “cheap wine”, I can think of a couple of $5 buck wines that I often recommend to folks who ask. This wine is a very solid effort by Bronco Wines.