The TJ’s Grand Reserve Sonoma Meritage 2013-Lot 92 is a Trader Joe’s limited edition $12.99 Bordeaux Blend comprised of Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon. A 12.99 Sonoma Meritage Red Blend isn’t all that unusual, but where the Tj’s Grand Reserve separates itself from the other $12.99 wines, is this blend is aged in French oak barrels for 26 months. Trader Joe’s says wines with this pedigree sell in the $25 to $50 range and I believe them. Even back in 2013 taking a Sonoma Red blend and aging it in oak for over 2 years then adding an additional 4 years bottle age and then giving it a sub-$13 price tag wasn’t a solid business plan. This is not a wine you see at this price very often. Back in 2008 when the economy tanked, this type of deal popped up fairly often, there was always some winery that needed to generate cash and sold off wine at bargain prices. But today, not so much.
So, What is the story behind this limited edition wine? Trader Joe’s ain’t telling. A wine is aged in oak barrels for a long period of time when it is intended to be cellar worthy and last 10, 15 years, maybe more. The general rule of thumb with oak aging is that if it is aged in barrel of 1 year it needs to bottle aged for 1 additional year, aged in barrel 2 years, then 2 years additional in bottle. There are variables, it is not an exact 1 to 1 ratio, but wines that are aged in oak barrels for an extended period of time take at least that amount of time to become ready for sale. These are not drink-it-now wines, they tend not to use the vineyards as drink-it-now wines, the grapes have different characteristics that allow them to age successfully. These are not $12.99 wines.
The word Meritage indicates that the TJ’s Grand Reserve Sonoma Meritage 2013 is a Bordeaux blend. There is a organization in California that is dedicated to the study and advancement of Bordeaux grapes and the wineries pay them a fee to use the word Meritage on the label. That is another clue of sorts, when you are selling a wine for $12.99 you may skip the Meritage fee and just call your wine a Red Blend. Something else I noticed is the cork is new, you would figure a 2013 vintage cork would be stained significantly red, but this cork looks new. The bottle is a legitimate big, heavy California Red bottle suitable for aging, maybe it is the original bottle, but did the original cork have the producing wineries name on it? I guess at $12.99 for a wine that should sell for $25 to $50 a little mystery is ok. The alcohol content is 14.3%.
The Tasting Notes
The color is some serious purple. The nose is complex and dark, dark berries and oak spice, vanilla, pepper, brownies baking in the oven, nutmeg and cinnamon. The Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve Sonoma Meritage 2013-Lot 92 is the real deal, it is a solid Sonoma Red blend, there is plenty of oak seasoning but it is well integrated into the flavor profile, this is a wine that can be put away and cellared for several more years. It tastes of blackberry, strong tea, herbs, pepper, black licorice, and spice. The mid-palate offers cherry, tangerine zest, a hint of cream, and exotic spice. The tannins are there, but they don’t bite. The acidity allows the flavors to unfold, but do not get in the way of sipping pleasure. The finish is big and long.
- This is a no-brainer, how often do you get an age-worthy Sonoma Bordeaux Blend for $12.99?
- Once your local Trader Joe’s sells out, this wine is gone for good, so buy accordingly.
- I thought going into this review, that The Grand reserve was a $40 Red blend that didn’t match up to its competition, so it was being sold off. But, I don’t think that is the case, this is a solid, tasty Red Blend.