The Sainte-Croix Syrah (50%) Merlot (50%) is a Trader Joe’s $4.99 US exclusive (it is available in Canada for around $12). This wine is produced by Roux Pere & Fils S.A. from grapes grown in the Languedoc region of Southwest France. This Red blend is designated a Vin de Pays D’Oc wine indicating that while this wine was sourced from grapes grown in the Languedoc AOC (the AOC is the commission that sets the standards for French wine) it does not conform to all the AOC rules, so it is downgraded from a AOC wine to the next level classification. Years ago, Vin de Pays meant country wine, or wine that was grown outside the boundaries of one of the AOC’s (such as Bordeaux or Burgundy, etc.), but as the market for French wine has expanded, Vin de Pays wines are more likely to be wines made in a style that is more palatable to the English or American (or increasingly, the Chinese) buying public. The rules and regulations are less stringent for Vin de Pays wines and often allow things as simple as showing the variety of the grape or grapes in the bottle on the front label. For French wine drinkers, the variety of grape used to produce the wine is not nearly as important as who made the wine and where the grapes were grown, so the variety of grape is not shown on the label. This Syrah/Merlot was aged in oak barrels for 2 months and the alcohol content is 13.5%.
The color is a dark purple with an almost clear halo. The nose is fairly simple, some plum, a little chocolate and a touch of strawberry. This is a juicy, fruit forward wine with some nice structure and firm tannins. It starts with blackberry and blueberry, creamy vanilla, tart cranberry and a slight sensation of Nestle Quik powder. The mid palate brings raisin spice along with dried cherry. The tannins are firm, they do not bite, but they let you know they are in the glass. The finish is more than acceptable for a $4.99 wine.
The Sainte-Croix Syrah/Merlot is a $4.99 wine with no issues, no off flavors or odd textures, just a very flavorful Red blend. Not a “wow” wine, but a wine that 3 or 4 years ago would have had a 10 or 12 dollar price tag, wines this good never ever sold for under 5 bucks. More than good enough to serve with burgers on the grill and classy enough to be a hit served at a wedding or a backyard Anniversary party. I am no longer shocked at how competent $5 wine has become.