The Chariot Gypsy Red 2014 is a $4.99 Trader Joe’s exclusive sourced from vineyards in more than one California grape growing AVA. The blend for this wine changes from year to year and TJ’s mentions Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, and Petite Sirah along with other “secret” grapes. The Chariot Gypsy Red has sold for $4.99 at Trader Joe’s for almost a decade and was originally produced by Jim Neal Wines, but since the 2012 vintage Vintage Wines Estates has been in-charge. They are known for BR Cohn, Cameron Hughes, Clayhouse and many other wine brands. Trader Joe’s is selling out the last of the 2014 and according to the Chariot Gypsy website the next vintage will be sourced from the North Coast (Sonoma, Mendocino, Napa, Lake County) and be a very different wine (15.1% alcohol compared to the 2014s 13.5%), so keep a look out for the next release. Back in the day the Chariot Gypsy was one of the original “sells for 5 tastes like 20” wines. It wasn’t your typical 5 buck bottle, some years had the wine aging in oak barrels for 15 months (unheard of in this price range, this is oak chips and oak powder territory) and some of the grapes may have come from vineyards way above the $4.99 price tag. CWF hasn’t reviewed this blend since the 2012 vintage which wasn’t quite the bang for the buck wine the earlier vintages were, but I think that was due to other value priced wines starting to catch-up, rather than the Chariot Gypsy back sliding.
The color is a dark black cherry red. The nose is dark berries, clove, sweet strawberry, spice, pepper, it has a fairly oaky nose for a 5 buck wine. This is a medium-bodied, fruit-forward, spicy wine. It tastes of blackberry, raspberry, bitter chocolate, and pepper. The mid-palate shows orange peel, exotic spice, dusty tannins, and plum. The acidity is a little light, you can still pair it with comfort foods, but this more of a sipping wine, which is praise for a $4.99 wine. The finish mirrors the body of the wine, but fades before too long.
When the Chariot Gypsy Red was first introduced at Trader Joe’s $4.99 wine could be a horror show, but the Chariot Gypsy Red always delivered more than expected. In the last 10 years value wine has improved to the point that they are making some more expensive wine redundant. The Chariot Gypsy Red 2014 still delivers and I am looking forward to the next vintage.