The StoryThe Trader Joe's Reserve North Coast Brut is a Trader Joe's $9.99 non-vintage exclusive and is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. The North Coast AVA consists of Sonoma, Napa, Lake, Mendocino, along with the lesser-known Marin and Solano AVAs. This Bubbly is made for Trader Joe's by Rack and Riddle, a company that specializes in producing Sparkling wine and many of the California Bubbly made under varying Brand names are produced by Rack and Riddle. They also have Sparkling wine sold under their name.The term Reserve doesn't have a legal meaning, Trader Joe's may have a less expensive Califonia Sparkling wine and Reserve means this one is positioned a step up. The TJ's Reserve is made in the Traditional Method, the same production technique as Champagne, meaning the 2nd fermentation (this is where the bubbles are created) occurs in every bottle. A major difference with the Trader Joe's Reserve and Champagne is the 2nd fermentation in France must last a minimum of 18 months and here the 2nd fermentation is 12 months. That is more in line with Cava than Champagne.Brut indicates that this is a dry wine or not sweet. The North Coast AVA is an excellent place to grow these grapes, Rack and Riddle have years of experience making Sparkling wines and Trader Joe's has a history of bang for the buck Bubbly. So why not take a chance. The alcohol content is 12.7%.The Tasting NotesThe color is a pale, clean, clear gold with plenty of bubbles. The nose is crisp and slightly nectar sweet, lemon, green apple, juicy peach, lime, a little brioche, cherry, and pear. This is dry Bubbly with crisp flavors and a bit of an edge. It starts with a mix of green apple and unsweetened lemonade, a salty sensation, a bit of yeasty bread (not too much), and ripe pear. The mid-palate adds ripe peach (again not too sweet), lemon cough drops, and spice. The acidity is well managed, sometimes under ten dollars, Bubbly has the acidity that can bite. The finish is full and does not quit.The Summary The Trader Joe's Reserve North Coast Brut does not have the depth of Champagne, but it is plenty tasty. At $9.99, getting the flavor, but not the depth ain't a bad thing. I am getting jaded enough with Sparkling wine (Champagne and Prosecco are both Sparkling wine) that I am really into Bubbly that has extended 2nd fermentation times (often several extra years), there is something about that extra time that brings out sensational characteristics in the wine. The Bubbly with extended 2nd fermentation tends to get a little pricey, so this solid. but standard Bubbly is really nicely priced. I am of the position that with Bubbles if you are looking for a special bottle for a special occasion find one of those extended fermentation Champagnes, they can be remarkably special wines. If you just want a nice glass of Bubbly/Sparkling wines like TJ's Reserve hit the spot at a great price.
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