Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve Santa Lucia Highland Pinot Noir Lot 80 2017

The Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Santa Lucia Highland Pinot Noir Lot 80 2017 is 100% Pinot Noir exclusive Trader Joe's $12.99 wine sourced from a vineyard or vineyards from a very high-end exclusive Pinot Noir growing area in Monterey County, California.  Here is a Trader Joe's Grand Reserve from Carneros. The Santa Lucia Highlands are located on the eastern foothills of a Coastal Mountain Range just south of the Monterey Bay, south of San Francisco. There was also a 2016 Lot 80 Pinot Noir, so this isn't a one-off wine, but a limited quantity wine, when it sells out that is it until the next vintage, if there is a next vintage. A family owned California winery who produce a popular line of Trader Joe's exclusive affordable wines also own an excellent vineyard in the northern end of the Santa Lucia Highlands, I won't name the winery since I have no information that they have any involvement in the Lot 80 Pinot Noir, but they would be a prime suspect. The back label says it was “vinted and bottled by” Avid Winery, but they do not seem to be an active winery, their website and their Facebook page is dormant).  Santa Lucia Highland Pinot Noir usually retails in the $25 to $75 range, so $12.99 is a substantial savings. The Trader Joe's Lot 80 Pinot Noir was aged in 50% French oak and 50% American oak for 5 months, which is a shorter aging period and using a larger % of American oak than the more expensive Pinot Noir (the expensive stuff would only use French oak), but isn't out of line with the lower end of the Santa Lucia Highland Pinots. The alcohol content is 14.6% which is heavy for a Pinot Noir, the Pinot purists have a fit with any wine over 12.5%. The color is very encouraging it looks like expensive Pinot Noir, crystal clear, see-thru garnet red. The nose is solid, cherry, herbs, bacon fat, soft spice, mushroom, hints of mocha and black pepper. This is a Pinot Noir that the flavors build on your palate and it may be a little young, there is an edge to the mid-palate that should calm down with time. It tastes of black cherry mixed with Thanksgiving herbs, exotic spice, sweet strawberry, and black pepper. The mid-palate adds tart cranberry, cold coffee (with cream), sharp tannins, orange zest mixed with soothing, ripe plums. The tannins have a little grip to them and the acidity is solid, there is plenty of length to allow the flavors to unfold. As for the finish, this is a wine that takes hold of your palate and does not want to give it up. Summary * Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Santa Lucia Highland Pinot Noir Lot 80 2017 is a legitimate Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir at an unheard of price * They may have used some production techniques to help facilitate the $12.99 price point, but I would say the grapes are top-notch * This Pinot Noir is probably a little young, it is very drinkable, but if you can put it away for a year or so it may really show well (it is hard to say for sure, since people rarely cellar these types of wine) * Cheapwinefinder says, there are some great Pinot wineries operating in the Santa Lucia Highlands and if you are curious about their wines the Trader Joe's Lot 80 isn't a bad starting point  

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Don’t tell anyone, but there is absolutely no correlation between the cost of wine and the quality of wine.