The StoryThe Trader Joe's Platinum Reserve Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 Lot 89 is a $14.99 Trader Joe's exclusive sourced from grapes, like the title says, farmed in the Atlas Peak AVA of Napa Valley in Northern California. Atlas Peak is a unique region inside Napa since it is the highest elevation growing region. When it comes to Northern California vineyards you usually hear the same story, warm to hot afternoons, with much cooler evening followed by cooling morning fog. But Atlas Peak is so high up in the mountains there is no fog, yes there is warm but cooler than the typical Napa sub-AVA afternoon temps and cool evenings, but instead of the morning fog, they get intense sunlight. All this adds up to optimal Cabernet Sauvignon growing conditions that produce wines not typically found in the $14.99 price range.As a Trader Joe's contract exclusive wine, there isn't too much beyond the write-up in the Fearless Flyer about the particulars of the making of this Cab. At first, I thought a 2017 vintage maybe a little bit of an early release for an Atlas Peak Cab. But since I found $50 and $60 2017 Atlas Peak Cabernets on the internet, that stifled that idea. While the typical Atlas Peak Cab has more age when released, 2017 seems to be perfectly fine for a ready-now Red wine. So, is this a legit $25 to $35 Cab selling for TJ's prices or is this a typical drink-it-now Cabernet Sauvignon but with Atlas Peak grapes, something you never ever see in this price range. Either way, it is well worth giving this wine a try. The alcohol content is 14.5%.The Tasting NotesThe color is barely see-thru black cherry red. The nose is ripe and juicy, blackberry, herbs, black pepper, spice, a touch of vanilla, chocolate powder, yup, it's a Cabernet Sauvignon. Be sure you give this Cabernet plenty of time to open up because there is plenty of spice and black pepper on hand and it needs all the fruit on hand to balance. That detail right there is something you do not ever find in typical $15 drink-it-now Reds. Once the ripe fruit shows up this is a completely different wine. There is very detailed fruit and spice, the flavors are on-point, blackberry, sharp spice, black pepper, bitter chocolate. The mid-palate adds creamy vanilla, orange zest, tart cranberry mixed with sweet blueberry. The tannins are more dusty than sweet (the way value-priced wine is made nowadays the tannins are rarely worth mentioning, here they are definitely on the menu). The acidity allows the ample flavors to unfold, while not getting in the way. The finish is subtle but lasts.The Summary * This is NOT your typical ten dollars, well $15, drink-it-now Cabernet Sauvignon. There are flavors and textures that do not show up in value wine. * If you are looking for an entry into the world of Napa Cabs Trader Joe's Platinum Reserve Atlas Peak Cab Lot 89 is about as inexpensive and easy an entry as you will find. This wine is an actual bargain.
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