The 2012 Trader Joe’s Grower’s Reserve Organic Pinot Noir ($6.99) is sourced from one or more certified organic vineyards somewhere in California. This wine was “Produced and Bottled by” ASV Wines, San Martin, California (a custom, contract wine producer), they crushed, fermented and aged the wine, but did not grow the grapes. Now, most wine snobs cringe when they see a $6.99 bottle of Pinot Noir, they think, “How can it possibly be any good?”. But, there are a few things in the TJ’s Grower’s Reserve favor. First, nobody goes thru the trouble and expense to have poor grapes certified to be organic, second, 2012 was an outstanding grape vintage in California. Grapes had excellent growing conditions and there are enough quality grapes available, that Trader Joe’s should be able to pick up some bargains. Since these grapes were purchased in the secondary market, Trader Joe’s can’t divulge who grew the grapes, the label has just the minimum information as required by law. So cross your fingers, there is a good chance this will be a fairly decent under 7 buck Pinot Noir. The alcohol content is 13.5%.
The color is a shiny, clear garnet red. The nose is muted, some cherry and strawberry, a little mushroom, a hint of herbs, nothing jumps out at you. This is a light to medium bodied Pinot Noir, the mouthfeel is slightly watery, but the flavors are full bodied. It starts of with tart cherry juice, a soft display of herbs, tar and strawberries in cream. The mid palate adds some black pepper spice and cranberry. The acidity is balanced and the finish fades quickly, but echoes do manage to hold on for a while.
The 2012 Trader Joe’s Grower’s Reserve Pinot Noir costs less than 7 dollars and tastes like a real California Pinot Noir. That is a pretty impressive statement, this is a Pinot Noir that has its faults, it isn’t close to perfect, but it tastes pretty good and its even certified organic.