The St. Somewhere AlexanderValley Chardonnay 2018 is a $7.99 Trader Joe’s single-vineyard exclusive. Trader Joe’s seems to use the St. Somewhere label when a winery has excess wine to sell. The last time they used the name was an Oregon Pinot Noir that accidentally has 1.5% of California Pinot Noir blended in, their mistake was TJ’s gain. If the Fearless Flyer is accurate this Chardonnay this is a single vineyard Alexander Valley Valley wine (a sub-AVA in Sonoma County), which vineyard and what winery is something of a mystery. The back label says the wine was vinted and bottled by (this indicates the listed winery merely aged and bottled the wine, not made the wine) what may well be an excellent family-owned wine company from Lodi. So we have an Alexander Valley vineyard, a Lodi winery (just because a wine company is headquartered in one AVA does not mean they don’t produce wine from other locations and a mystery wine.
A single-vineyard wine from Alexander Valley normally is priced near $20 and beyond and the 2018 vintage is a bit early for those wines to be released. A 2018 vintage for Chardonnay in this price range ($7.99) isn’t unusual, wines in around ten bucks are intentionally produced to come together quickly. The sooner they can get an inexpensive wine ready for sale the sooner they can recoup their investment. Single-vineyard, single sub-AVA Sonoma Chardonnay is typically produced in a more elaborate fashion that takes more time to find its balance, thus the higher price. So what is going on with the St. Somewhere? Is it made in the ten buck drink-it-now style only with fancy grapes or is it a wine produced like the more expensive Chardonnay, that may or may not be released a tad bit early and Trader joe’s got a great deal? The Fearless Flyer tasting notes kind of indicate a complex winemaking process, such as malolactic fermentation, on lees, and a very particular oak program. Let’s taste it and find out. The alcohol content is a stout 14.7%.
The Tasting Notes
The color is a golden yellow. The nose would suggest a more expensive wine, plenty of vanilla, soft spice, and rounded, rich fruit, the aroma belies its 2018 vintage. This is a medium-bodied Chardonnay, smooth and rounded, with contrasting spice on the mid-palate. It tastes of vanilla, apple, pear, grapefruit, and lime. The mid-palate throws in some cream, salty cashew, slightly rough exotic spice (nice contrast with all the rich fruit flavors). The acidity is subdued. The finish is full and lengthy.
- Well so much for being a wine detective, my guess is that the St. Somewhere Alexander Valley Chardonnay 2018 is a wine that was produced in a style closer to the $20 wines that may have been released a little bit early by Trader Joes. Though at $7.99 you can say it has enough aging if you were paying $20 you may expect another 6 months or so. I wouldn’t bet money on my guess, I am just filling in the blanks my own way.
- So is it a wine worth buy? Yes, especially if you like your Chard a little buttery, with a little vanilla cream, and rich fruit. The No Oak crowd won’t be happy. But an 8 buck Anderson Valley single-vineyard Chardonnay with a good compliment of all the production bells and whistles is a no brainer.