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The Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2021 is a $12.99 Trader Joe’s exclusive. In January of 2022, Trader Joe’s offered the Platinum Reserve SLH Pinot Noir. That wine sold for $14.99 and if you click on the link you will find that we thought it had too much alcohol and wasn’t a classic California Pinot.
The back label shows Healdsburg Wine Cellars as the folks who “vinted and bottled the Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2021 and showed their location to be Manteca, California. Healdsburg is in Sonoma and Manteca is in Lodi. Mantica is also the home to Delicato Family Vineyards which produces Gnarly Head and and several dozen other brands and they recently purchased Coppola Wines. I did not come across anything linking them to this particular wine, but they have produced many wines for Trader Joe’s in the past.
The Santa Lucia Highlands runs at a 45-degree angle from Monterey Bay. The vineyards are located on the easter side of the Salinas River in the foothills of the Coastal Mountains. This AVA came into its own in the 1970s, there have been grapes grown for over 150 years, but it became a serious wine region in the last 50 years. A typical Santa Luvia Highland Pinot Noir starts at about $20 and goes past $100 with most somewhere in the middle.
SLH is a cool growing region that provides a long growing season for Pinot Noir grapes. You want table grapes to be ripe and sweet, wine grapes need plenty of time to develop, and you want them to be complicated so the fermentation process can bring out a myriad of flavors and textures.
The Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2021 has a Fearless Flyer write-up so we do have some clues about this Pinot Noir. They mention aromas of nutmeg, cocoa, vanilla, and brown sugar which are scents that come from oak barrel aging. The alcohol content is a bit stiff at 14.78%, which is Cabernet Sauvignon territory.
The Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2021 Tasting Notes
The color is garnet red, maybe a tad darker than what is typical. The nose is interesting and fun, I do pick up the nutmeg, brown sugar, and vanilla, along with black cherry, blueberry, chocolate powder, faint herbs, and soft spice. The Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2021 is a modern Pinot Noir more along the lines of Meiomi and Burgundian Pinot Noir. Though it is a more balanced wine than some of the modern Pinots.
This Pinot Noir tastes like tart cherry, dark chocolate, French vanilla, plum, and very soft spice. The mid-palate does not differ greatly from the body of the wine but does add blueberry, dusty tannins, black pepper, and cranberry. The acidity is well-balanced.
- The Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2021 reminds me more of a Red blend than a classic California Pinot Noir, luckily, I really like Red blends.
- If you like your Pinot, ripe, juicy, and flavorful then this is your wine.
- I think this is more of a sipping wine than a food wine, so maybe not the best choice for Thanksgiving dinner.