The Trader Joe’s Diamond Reserve Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 is a $19.99 Trader Joe’s exclusive. The Diamond Reserve wines are their double-secret super rare wines; if you are interested, do not wait to try one because when they are gone, they are gone forever.
Twenty bucks are beyond the usual price range for Trader Joe’s wine still wines; TJ’s Champagne wines are around twenty. So what is so different about the Trader Joe’s Diamond Reserve Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 that warrants the jump in price?
Well, let me tell you a story. This comes from the Fearless Flyer podcast; here is a link to the transcript. The 2020 vintage in the Stags Leap District AVA was rough; there was fire and smoke all right at the worst time, just before harvest.
Smoke damage comes in two forms; the first is damage that is immediate and can be easily identified. The second is smoke damage that shows up years later. The wine may seem fine, even outstanding in the short term, but the smoke taint shows up during the aging process.
This is a significant problem for Stags Leap winemakers who produce age-worthy wines that sell in the hundreds of dollars. They can risk the wineries reputation that has been built for decades. If there is any doubt about the quality of the grapes, they will pick the grapes at harvest and drop them to the ground to act as fertilizer for the next crop.
A Stags Leap vineyard had this problem when Trader Joe’s came along and offered to buy the entire vineyard worth of grapes. A chemical test had been run on the grapes to test for damage, but the results were still a week or two away. It was time to pick the grapes; they did not have weeks to delay, and a decision was necessary.
And that was how the Trader Joe’s Diamond Reserve Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 came to be. They bought the entire harvest before they knew the extent, if any, of the damage. They knew that there were not any immediate adverse effects from smoke. As for long-term effects, they would not make an age-worthy wine.
A 2020 vintage release for a Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon is young and more expensive Cab Sauv would have a year or two more of age. So, the Trader Joe’s Diamond Reserve Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 may be on the young side, but it is made from the same grapes used in wines that sell for hundreds of dollars.
While Trader Joe’s used a very high-end vineyard, the same winemaker was not involved, and the same winemaking techniques as the super expensive wines were probably not precisely followed. This is perhaps a wine produced to come together quickly; too much grape extraction may invite smoke damage to show up.
The Trader Joe’s Diamond Reserve Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 is a wine that you rarely come across, an affordable wine from an unaffordable vineyard. The 2021 vintage, if all goes well, will be back to selling for its accustomed prices, and TJ’s will be back to $5.99 wine. The alcohol content is 15.5%.
The bottle is a heavy-duty Cabernet bottle, and the cork is a natural cork, none of that composite nonsense.
The Trader Joe’s Diamond Reserve Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 Tasting Notes
The color is black cherry red; the black highlights dominate the color. The nose leaps out the glass; this is a wine you can smell from a foot and a half away. There are scents of ripe red berries, soft herb, chocolate powder, blackberry, black pepper, toasted vanilla, and mocha. The Trader Joe’s Diamond Reserve Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 is a smooth, rich Cab.
This Cabernet Sauvignon tastes like blackberry, sharp spice, licorice, tea, black pepper, and plum. The mid-palate offers vanilla, oak spice, raspberry, orange zest, and tart cranberry. The tannins are well-integrated into the body of the wine, and the acidity lets the flavors unfold. This is a wine that will continue to develop in your glass as the wine opens up.
- Twenty Dollars is cheap for the Trader Joe’s Diamond Reserve Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 because it is a wine that you can not find anywhere else. The circumstances for this Cabernet is unique.
- They do not name the Stags Leap vineyard that the grapes came from, but this is probably the last $19.99 wine it will produce for some time.
- This is a $19.99 Cabernet Sauvignon that may well be more exclusive than any $250 Cabernet.