The 2012 Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve Russian River Pinot Noir Lot 22 is one of the rare Trader Joe’s exclusive wines that is priced above $9.99, this Pinot is $12.99. The Lot 22 designation on the label is new, are there other Lot’s of TJ’s Russian River Pinots in the pipeline? The Russian River AVA is located inside Sonoma County and is a very cool climate grape growing area, even in the warmer months, fog off the ocean in the morning helps cool the grapes. Pinot Noir grapes thrive in cool weather and are at their best when they have plenty of time to develop and ripen, the Russian River AVA provides those conditions. The 2012 vintage in California was excellent and it was especially good in Northern California, so if an inexpensive Russian River Pinot is ever going to deliver the goods, 2012 is the year. The Pat Slater Wine Company is the winery listed on the back label, but they are just a front company, Trader Joe’s ain’t telling who grew the grapes and who made the wine. This Pinot Noir was aged for 6 months in French oak barrels and the alcohol content is 13.5%.
The color is a pretty ruby red. The nose is a stew of herbs, mushroom, bacon grease, cherries and a hint of smoke, a pretty good nose for a $12.99 Pinot. It starts with red fruit, cherries, strawberry, raspberries, but not super ripe, more controlled. Then the more savory elements emerge, sauteed mushroom, grilled meat, herbs, tea, followed by a finishing blast of tart cranberry and orange zest. The tannins are smooth and the acidity gives this Pinot Noir excellent length. The finish is subdued, but it lasts and lasts.
Well, don’t worry about the extra 3 bucks, the 2012 TJ’s Grand Reserve Russian River Pinot Noir Lot 22 is well worth the increase. This bottling is going to sell out quickly, it is light, delicate, silky, nuanced, flavorful and $12.99. If you are a fan of inexpensive Pinot Noir, you are going to love the Lot 22. If you are a Pinot Noir snob, you will grumble loudly when there are people around and when no one is looking you will head over to Trader Joe’s to pick up a couple of bottles.