The Trader Joe’s Reserve Wahluke Slope Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 is a $9.99 Trader Joe’s wine, 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 7% Merlot sourced from the Wahluke Slope AVA in the south-central section of the Columbia Valley AVA of Washington. This wine was produced and bottled by (that indicates they made the wine) by CC Vineyards of Patterson, Washington.
CC Vineyards is or at least is a subsidiary of Columbia Crest Winery, which is the second label of Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery. Trader Joe’s typically tries to hide the identity of the producers of their Reserve wines, but here the producer is loud and clear.
Columbia Crest makes their Columbia Crest Estates wine, usually found for under $10, and their H3 line of wine is sourced from the Horse Heaven Hills AVA of the Columbia Valley. They, too, sell in the ten-dollar range. The Trader Joe’s Reserve Wahluke Slope Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 comes from vineyards or vineyards in the Wahluke Slope AVA, which is more in line with Columbia Crest’s more costly Reserve wines.
Chateau Ste. Michelle had been owned by a large Tabacco company but was recently purchased (vineyards, wineries, and all) by an Investment company. That purchase included Columbia Crest.
Columbia Crests wines seem to be behind a vintage; the newest release I found was 2019 Chardonnay; all the Red wines are the 2018 vintage and older. Did Covid set them back a year? You would expect value-priced wines to be of a newer vintage since time is money, and an extra year of age does not fit the budget.
The Trader Joe’s Reserve Wahluke Slope Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 does not fit the Trader Joe’s Reserve wines profile. We know the who and the where, but we do not know why. Did the sale of the parent company lead to this wine? Is this excess wine that Columbia Crest had on hand and needed a partner to sell off?
As a 2018 vintage, the Trader Joe’s Reserve Wahluke Slope Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 this Cabernet has three years of age; you do not figure that this is a wine made expressly for Trader Joe’s. At ten bucks, a 2019 vintage would have been enough age.
If I had to guess, and this is a guess, I would say that the Trader Joe’s Reserve Wahluke Slope Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 is a section of wine meant for one of their high-end Reserve wines whatever reason did not make it into the Reserve wine. It is not uncommon for a winery to bottle more wine than is needed to send to the wine shops. If there is a call for more of the wine, then we can run the bottles through the label machine. The extra bottles without labels are referred to as shiners.
So, this may be a more expensive Cabernet Sauvignon that found its way into a $9.99 Trader Joe’s bottle through unspecified circumstances. The alcohol content is 14.5%
The Trader Joe’s Reserve Wahluke Slope Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 Tasting Notes
The color is a dark garnet red with black highlights. The nose is intense blackberry, black pepper, coffee, molasses, soft herbs, and ripe raspberry. The Trader Joe’s Reserve Wahluke Slope Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 a sleek, balanced, rich Cabernet Sauvignon with a nice blast of spice on the finish.
It tastes like blackberry, black licorice, black pepper, milk chocolate, and tea. The mid-palate adds a tart, slightly sour cranberry, orange zest, blueberry, and a slap of exotic spice. The tannins are soft and sweet, while the acidity lets the flavors unfold but otherwise does not interfere.
- I think my guess that the Trader Joe’s Reserve Wahluke Slope Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 was a more expensive wine that was downgraded to end up a Trader Joe’s is correct. This Cabernet Sauvignon has some depth and complexity that ten dollars Cabernets do not often have.
- Just how much more expensive is hard to say, Wahluke Slope Cabernet Sauvignon runs from $15 to $55.
- This wine is a bargain and can go up against wines at twice the price (maybe more) in a blind tasting.