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The Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay 2021 is a $12.99 Trader Joe’s exclusive. TJ’s at one time had a chart that said that this tier of Reserve wine is equal in quality to this price range of retail wine. They no longer publish those claims, but a Grand Reserve wine should to roughly equal to a retail wine at or near twice the price.
The Sta. Rita Hills AVA (Santa Rita Hills) is located in the western San Ynez Valley inside the Santa Barbara AVA located about 100 miles north of Los Angeles. Most of the vineyards are located in a triangle-shaped part of the Santa Barbara coastline that juts out into the Pacific Ocean, so there is cool/cold Pacific water to the north, west, and south.
The temperature drops one degree for every mile closer to the ocean where the vineyard is located. The soil and the underlying rock formations are unique since at some time in the very distance past Sta. Rita Hills was part of the Ocean floor.
Trader Joe’s has sold a Grand Reserve Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir in recent years, but the producer listed on the label is different from the Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay 2021. The company named on the back label of Trader Joe’s Reserve wines is rarely the company that grew the grapes or made the wine. I played detective and tracked down the parent company for Avid Vineyards, vinted and bottled by means that they did not produce the wine and only bottled it and maybe did some aging.
That we do not know who made the wine is not a bad thing, since if this is excess wine from a winery that sold their version for $25, they do not want anyone to know, since if it gets out nobody would purchase their $25 Chardonnay. I don’t know if that is the scenario since there are several possibilities for the origin of this Chardonnay. But part of the fun for these Trader Joe’s versions of negociant wines is trying to solve the mystery. The alcohol content is a ripe 14.2%.
The Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay 2021 Tasting Notes
The color is sunshine yellow. The nose is melon, lemon, green apple, a slap of spice, lemongrass, stonefruit, pear, and peach. The Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve Sta. Rita Hills AVA 2021 is very balanced and nuanced.
This Chardonnay tastes like apple, lime, dried pineapple, lemon curd, ripe peach, and pear. The mid-palate brings melon, guava, nectarine, a hint of vanilla cream, and apricot. The acidity does its job and allows the flavors to fully unfold while setting up your palate for the next sip.
- The Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay 2021 is an excellent $12.99 Chardonnay.
- A sub-AVA-grown Chardonnay from a renowned Chardonnay-growing region at this price is a bargain.
- A $12.99 Chardonnay that is this well-made and tasty is a wine that should be on your radar.