The VINTJS Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2018 is a $6.99 Trader Joe’s exclusive sourced, like the name says, from the Sonoma Coast AVA located along the Pacific Coast of Sonoma County. The AVA border goes far enough inland to include some of the Russian River AVA.
I was in Trader Joe’s looking for a different wine, but when I saw a sub-seven buck Sonoma Coast Pinot I immediately grabbed a bottle. The Sonoma Coast is a relatively small AVA, with mostly small-production boutique wineries.
Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir does not under usual circumstances sell for anywhere near $6.99. CWF featured an ALDI Sonoma Coast Pinot that sold for $12.99 and I was astounded at that low price.
The VINTJS label for Trader Joe’s does not typically designate a special purchase or rare value. They use the Grand Reserve or the Platinum reserve labels for those special purchase wines. So, why is this wine so cheap? It is inexpensive for a Pinot Noir with California as the place of origin on the label, much less a high-end small production growing region.
I have absolutely zero inside information on the VINTJS Sonoma Coast Pinot’s origin, but I can think of several scenarios (there are many different reasons) that would explain the low price and Trader Joe’s unassuming approach to this wine.
Commercial vineyards replant their vines on a set schedule, they want the vineyard to be operating at top efficiency at all times. For the first few years, they don’t pick the grape clusters, at harvest they cut the grapes and let them all to fertilize next years crop.
After a few years, they will harvest the young grapes, if they are up to standards they will blend them in with other grapes, and if they don’t make the cut they get sold off. The grapes may come from a vineyard that produces a wine that sells for $50 and those vines will make wines that command those prices, just not this year.
Sometimes wineries change philosophy and replace winemakers, and left-over wine that no longer represents the winery gets sold off. Selling the wine to TJ’s works since Trader Joe’s does not compete with expensive Pinot Noirs. The original wines don’t have to worry about their own(sold off) wines selling at a lower price are competing for attention on the same shelf.
Or the grape juice is the same as expensive Pinot Noir, but the juice went thru simpler production techniques and less costly oak treatment. The crushed grape juice is the same but the finished wine is different. Then again, it could be a wine that once sold for $20 now selling for $6.99. It probably isn’t, but that does happen.
As a Trader Joe’s exclusive wine, we don’t know who or how of this wine. We know what (Pinot Noir) and the where (Sonoma Coast) which was enough to get me to buy it. The alcohol content is a stout for Pinot Noir 14.2%.
VINTJS Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2018 Tasting Notes
The color is a clear, see-thru garnet red. The nose is cherry, sticks and stems, a light hit of herbs, a little black pepper, some exotic spice, and crushed fall leaves. So, far there is nothing that explains why this Pinot Noir is $6.99. At 2018 it is the current vintage for many Sonoma Coast Pinots.
This is a fairly simple Pinot Noir and at first sip, the spice is a little out of balance, but that may even out as the bottle opens up. It tastes of smooth black cherry, then a blast of spice, followed by plum. The mid-palate brings some black licorice and some cherry cough drops. The spice has balanced out over time.
- The VINTJS Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2018 is not exactly a tasty wine, but it an interesting wine.
- It is not boring, it has more going on in your glass than any $6.99 Pinot Noir usually has to offer.
- It has the makings of a decent Pinot, it is just that everything is slightly out of order. Yes, I know it is silly to be too critical of a $6.99 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. That it even exists is cool. And at less than 7 bucks it is worth giving a try.