The Trader Joe’s Reserve Amador County Zinfandel Lot 185 2016 is a $9.99 Trader Joe’s exclusive. Amador County is 100 miles east of San Francisco, as far north as Napa County, but on the other side of Sacramento in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This is the California Gold Rush country. Amador County is a comparatively small AVA with 40 wineries, most of which are the small, family-owned boutique variety. Even though is well inland from most California grape growing regions, the higher altitude (1,000 to 2,000 feet) and the cool mountain air at night allow grapes to thrive.
As a Trader Joe’s Reserve wine, there is only the information the Fearless Flyer gives us and in this case, it is a couple of tasting notes and little else. But there is information we can deduce. Most Amador County wineries are small family-owned limited production facilities and are probably priced out of Trader Joe’s reach, but the larger wineries are first-class operations. I wouldn’t mind a Zinfandel from any of them. The second clue is this is a 2016 vintage which in the summer of 2019 gives it 3 years of barrel and bottle age. That is a quality amount of aging time for a $10 drink-it-now Zinfandel, it’s a step or two above entry-level wine production. The alcohol content is a stout 14.9%.
The Tasting Notes
The color is a barely see-thru black cherry red. The nose is jammy red and dark berries and spice, along with toasty vanilla, light herbs, and dark chocolate. This is a full-bodied, smooth Zinfandel, good fruit and spice, but balanced, not over the top. It starts with black cherry, black pepper, raspberry, dusty chocolate powder, and spice. The mid-palate offers plum, vanilla, tart cranberry, herbs, and a touch of cream. The tannins are smooth and the acidity allows the flavors to unfold. The finish is full and lengthy.
- At 10 bucks this is a solid entry into Amador County Zinfandel. There are some seriously good wineries there and if the Lot 185 piques your interest there is plenty to explore.
- At $10 this is an excellent, drink-it-now, no issues Zinfandel. It is not a wine you would cellar (though you could if you wish put it down for a few years), but it drinks well, as is.