The Trader Joe’s Growers Reserve Organic Paso Robles Zinfandel is a $5.99 (up a buck from a year ago) Trader Joe’s exclusive. This Zin was “produced and bottled” for Trader Joe’s by ASV Wines, a custom/contract winemaking facility, “produced and bottled” indicates that ASV Wines fermented, aged and bottled the wine, but did not grow the grapes. The Paso Robles AVA is located inside San Luis Obispo County in California, Paso Robles has been growing grapes for over 200 years and calls Zinfandel its Heritage grape, but today Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah comprise 63% of the grapes grown and Zinfandel 9%. This Zinfandel was made with certified organic grapes and the alcohol content is 13.5%.
The color is a clear, shiny raspberry jelly red. The nose is slightly sweet, strawberry fruit roll-ups, fresh plums, dark chocolate and a little menthol. This is a smooth, nectar sweet Zinfandel upfront with a light brush of spice on the finish. It starts off with canned strawberries in light syrup, black Twizzlers, raspberry iced tea and a slap of POM Wonderful. All the character shows up on the transition to a mid palate, there is a little Altoid’s spice, blueberry creme and black pepper, all subdued, but well balanced flavors. The tannins are soft and barely make their presence known, the acidity is well balanced and the finish starts off strong, but fades and never really goes away.
The TJ’s Grower’s Reserve Organic Paso Robles Zinfandel is a medium bodied Zinfandel and favors soft and smooth over rich and spicy. For 6 bucks, this wine drinks very well, it is not my favorite style of Zinfandel, but I cannot quarrel with the flavor. Ten years ago, you couldn’t find an American wine selling for $5.99 that was anywhere close to being this good. But, today, the over-all quality of wine is so good that I can be blasé about a $5.99 wine that does not indulge all my desires.