The Trader Joe’s Reserve Monterey Pinot Noir 2018 lot #191 is a $9.99 Trader Joe’s exclusive produced for them by an unspecified winery from grapes farmed in the Monterey County AVA inside the Central Coast AVA of California. The listed producer, Ashford Court, also is the name used for Trader Joe’s Cotillion Pinot Noir.
If you are familiar with Trader Joe’s wines the Cotillion Pinot has the label that is a drawing of what looks like a party from the 1700s only the guests are animals not human and they are wearing masks portraying different animals than themselves. It is one of my favorite Trader Joe’s labels and also a very consistent and very drinkable Pinot Noir.
This is a wine that is featured in the February Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer and TJ’s usually gives a few details on the featured wines, but not for the TJ’s Reserve Pinot. The most interesting tidbit that provided is that the wine came from a trusted partner who usually makes more expensive wines. That does not tell us much since Trader Joe’s has over the years used many top-notch producers for their wines and basically, all of them typically produce wine that sells for more than TraderJoe’s wines.
Monterey may not be the first California AVA you think of when you consider Pinot Noir, but it is the largest grower of Pinot Noir in California. There is a spot in the Pacific Ocean not far from the Monterey coast that is the coldest of all Ocean water along the California Coast. That cold water provides many locations in Monterey County with the cool nights and the foggy cool mornings that Pinot Noir vines crave.
The tasting notes on the front label mention spice and vanilla, both of those flavors are associated with aging wine in French oak. They make no mention of oak barrels or any other oak aging method, but I wouldn’t be surprised if French oak barrels were used. French oak barrels can cost one thousand dollars each and that is a significant cost for value-priced wine to absorb.
But store contract wines and especially Trader Joe’s who sell a good deal of wine, have a cost advantage over regular retail wine shops. They typically pay for the wine upfront which allows them to negotiate a better price than retail brands. And contract wines do not need all of the services wine distributors provide and that too provides savings, so a $9.99 may be the equal of a retail brand wine selling for several dollars more.
Plus these Trader Joe’s Reserve and Grand Reserve wines tend to be one-offs, special purchases and not yearly available wines. These one-time purchase wines have been wines that under different circumstances would sell for a good deal more. Not always, sometimes they are wines that should sell for about the price they do, but sometimes you get a wine that may usually sell for twice the price. The alcohol content is a slightly hot 13.8%.
Trader Joe’s Reserve Monterey Pinot Noir 2018 Tasting Notes
The color is a clear, shiny, see-thru garnet red. The nose is very spicy, usually, you get cherries and herbs, but here spice takes the lead. Followed by cherry, faint mushroom, soft herbs. The spices are both baking spice and hot candy spice. This is a Pinot Noir with a smooth silky mouthfeel up front and then a sharp slap of that hot candy spice, this is a Pinot with a unique flavor profile. It starts with smooth black cherry, black pepper, vanilla, and Altoid’s spice candy.
The mid-palate adds milk chocolate and tart cherry, with a bit of the “on lees” salty cashews after a few sips that thing. The tannins are sweet, and the acidity allows the flavors to unfold. The finish is full and does not let go.
- Trader Joe’s Reserve Monterey Pinot Noir 2018 Lot 191 is an interesting Pinot Noir. Well worth trying, it hits above its price tag.
- After a few sips that major spice thing calms down and the smooth back cherry and milk chocolate thing take over.
- If you gor ten bucks and are in a Pinot Noir kind of mood give it a try. This a one-off wine, when it’s gone it’s gone for good.