The Trader Joe’s Reserve Anderson Valley Pinot Noir is a $9.99 Trader Joe’s exclusive. Anderson Valley is located in coastal Mendocino and is situated between two mountain ranges. Two more things to note are this the 2018 vintage and is Lot #201.
Anderson Valley has a growing reputation for the production of fine Pinot Noir wines. I noticed that the alcohol level is 14.5% which fairly heavy for a Pinot Noir. Burgundian Pinot Noir is closer to 12.5%, so this is a substantial increase.
I did a quick check of currently released Anderson Valley Pinot Noir’s and found that 14.5% is not out of line. So this should be a Pinot Noir with a bit more weight on the palate than California Pinot Noir.
Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer claims that this Pinot Noir is comparable to $30 Pinots from the region. I believe them, we recently did a post on a $12.99 Napa Chardonnay that TJ’s said would have cost twenty-five dollars under a different label. And that claim rang true.
A Pinot Noir from a winery located in Anderson Valley can easily sell for $30 and usually much more. A Brand wine, that is a wine that is not tied to a particular winery, may come in a bit cheaper. But Pinot Noir from a well-regarded AVA can get expensive in a hurry.
It’s funny, one of the reasons I thought the $12.99 Napa Chardonnay should have cost twice as much is because it had a real cork, no composite or plastic cork. Value-priced wine almost never has a real cork, you are drinking the wine within 48 hours of buying it, there is no reason to use a real cork that when it isn’t really needed.
The Trader Joe’s Reserve Anderson Valley Pinot Noir has a composite cork, so no tip-off there, it is just that a 100% Anderson Valley Pinot Noir can command a good price. But, that is if it from a well-known winery or a winemaker with a solid track record.
Store label wine just cannot demand the same prices as established wineries can for their wines. Folks will pay thirty plus dollars for a Pinot Noir from a boutique Anderson Valley winery because they know what they are getting and what to expect.
Trader Joe’s Reserve wines have been wines well worth buying for quite some time, but they are a mixed bag. Where they came from and how they were made varies. There have been $9.99 wines that should have sold for $50 and $9.99 wines that were priced about right.
So, if this was a $30 wine under a different label, a label where the wines provenance and vintage history can be verified, that is believable. That is the main story here, Trader Joe’s Reserve wine, Grand Reserve, Platinum Reserve, and the rest are for adventurous bargain hunters. Sometimes you find a great bargain and sometimes not so much. I think this one just might be a bargain.
Trader Joe’s Reserve Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Tasting Notes
The color is dark, but still see-thru garnet red. The nose is cherries and spice, a little vanilla, some herbs, black pepper, and cold coffee. This is a little bit heavier on the palate, the 14.5% alcohol does make a difference, but the complex Pinot Noir flavors are on full display.
It starts with ripe black cherry, and a healthy dose of exotic spice, there is a hard edge for herbs and a splash of black pepper. The mid-palate offers, raspberry, Dr. Pepper (not sweet), tea, and orange zest. The wine feels smooth on your tongue, but the flavor profile has as many sharp tastes as ripe fruit ones. The acidity is well-balanced.
- A $30 Pinot Noir? Well, yeah maybe, under the right winery label, no problem.
- Worth $9.99? Of course! A single high-end Pinot Noir growing AVA for under ten bucks is always worth a try.