The 2011 Caves du Fournalet Cotes du Rhone Red is a $5.99 Trader Joe’s import exclusive. Caves du Fournalet is a Negociant-Eleveur with cellars in the Chateauneuf-du-Pape area of the Southern Rhone Valley in France. A Negociant is someone who buys wine from various producers and then sells it under their own label, a Negociant-Eleveur improves (or elevates) the wine by aging it in casks, blending the grapes or some other winemaking process. As a Negociant wine, there is no information on who grew the grapes or who crushed and fermented the wine or even what grapes were used. The Southern Rhone allows a blend with up to 8 approved grape varieties, with Grenache and Syrah as the most frequently used grapes. The alcohol content is 13%.
The color is crimson red with black highlights. The nose is sweet cherry, cinnamon spice, a little blueberry and brewing tea. This is a tasty if not a particularly complicated wine, it starts with raspberry jam (not sweet), rich blackberry, a soft touch of herbs and orange zest. The mid palate adds a little licorice, a faint dash of vanilla creme, along with strawberry. The tannins are soft and smooth, the acidity is well balanced with the body of the wine. The finish is fairly full, but fades quickly.
Well, there you go, you can get a decent taste of the Cote-du-Rhone for just under 6 bucks. It is a light side of medium bodied wine, with soft, sweet (nectar sweet, not sugary sweet, this is a dry wine) balanced flavor. There are better Cote-du-Rhone wines available, but I doubt if there are any better $5.99 Cote-du-Rhone wines available. It is probably much harder to produce a tasty, pleasurable 6 buck wine than it is to make an excellent $20 wine.