The Trader Joe’s Reserve Napa Valley Chardonnay 2019 is a $9.99 Trader Joe’s exclusive. This wine seems to come from a producer, ABJ WInes, who I believe is owned by someone who sold their Napa vineyard and winery to produce custom-label wines. This person has extensive connections in Napa, and that is a good sign for this Chardonnay.
The back label says “vinted and bottled by,” which means the named producer bottled the wine and not much more. That means the wine was crushed, fermented, and probably aged by a different party. That is how the custom wine brand system works.
A major vineyard or winery has excess grapes or finished wine; the middle man buys it, and does what is necessary to finish the wine. They find a buyer such as Trader Joe’s, come up with a label, and we get a wine that, with any luck, is a bargain.
The Trader Joe’s Reserve Napa Valley Chardonnay 2019 does not provide any information on the wine’s sourcing and production. Napa Valley is a big place, and not all growing areas are created equal. With a ten-buck Chardonnay, you do not expect a name-brand vineyard and having Napa in the title is worth $10. But having Napa as a growing area does not make a value-priced Chardonnay better than a Central Coast or a Central Valley Chardonnay.
Napa Chardonnay should have different characteristics and flavors from the others, but it is not automatically better. With high-end wines, Napa can be a difference-maker, but with drink-it-now, value-priced wine Napa may not be the elite wine the expense Napa wines are.
Drink the Trader Joe’s Reserve Napa Valley Chardonnay 2019 for an inexpensive taste of Napa Valley, which can be a rare occurrence. Just know that for value-priced wine, other growing regions are better suited for producing ten-dollar wine.
There may be a chance that the Trader Joe’s Reserve Napa Valley Chardonnay 2019 is left-over Chardonnay from some winery’s $30 wine. It most likely isn’t; that does happen once in a while. But typically, this was a wine that this Chardonnay made to sell in the ten to fifteen dollar range. Still a bargain, but for a value-priced wine, Napa Valley is not everything. The alcohol content is 13.7%.
The Trader Joe’s Reserve Napa Valley Chardonnay 2019 Tasting Notes
The color is a clear, shiny, sunshine yellow. The nose is green apple, lemon, butter, vanilla, coconut, faint peach and pear, grapefruit, and soft floral edge. Several of those aromas come from oak barrel aging. The Trader Joe’s Reserve Napa Valley Chardonnay 2019 is an elegant and balanced wine, smooth upfront and a rougher contrast on the mid-palate.
It tastes like crisp, slightly sour apple, dried pineapple, and peach, followed by French vanilla. The mid-palate shows a salty/nutty sensation, stone fruit, orange zest, and oak spice. The acidity is well controlled; it allows the flavors to unfold but otherwise stays out of the way.
- The Trader Joe’s Reserve Napa Valley Chardonnay 2019 is well worth its $9.99 price.
- Of course buy a ten dollar Napa Valley Chardonnay, how often do you find a solid Napa wine that is so affordable.
- Just remember that for value-priced wine, Napa is more of a novelty. There are other growing AVAs and excellent wineries that offer excellent cheap Chardonnay.