The Trader Joe’s Reserve Oak Knoll Zinfandel 2019 is a $9.99 Trader Joe’s exclusive sourced from grapes farmed in the Oak Knoll AVA inside Napa Valley. This is a one-off wine; when it sells out, it is gone for good, so if you like it, buy all you need.
Oak Knoll is located in the southern part of Napa Valley, just north of Carneros. Carneros, located in both Sonoma and Napa, is situated on the northern shore of San Pablo Bay.
The San Pablo Bay is inland; both San Fransisco and Oakland are on the Bay’s west side. The cold ocean bay water allows Carneros, Napa, Clarksburg, Lodi, and other inland regions to be major wine grape growing areas.
Oak Knoll is cooler by up to 10 degrees than most of Napa Valley and is primarily known for Cabernet Sauvignon. Zinfandel is down the list of grapes grown, but the Zinfandel producers here make very high-end wine.
So, what exactly is the Trader Joe’s Reserve Oak Knoll Zinfandel 2019? The average price range for Oak Knoll AVA Zinfandel starts at $25 and goes to $70 and higher. Is this an expensive Zin sold off at a bargain price?
Probably, not. First, this is a 2019 vintage, which would make this a young, drink-it-now wine, not meant for aging. The vineyard land in Oak Knoll is expensive; wineries will not make ends meet with ten-dollar wine.
The famous regions of Napa are well-known because the vineyards produce grapes with specific, desirable qualities. The winemakers are aware of this and do their best to extract all the grapes’ goodness. Intensive winemaking production practices lead to longer aging for the wine to balance before releasing for sale.
A 2019 vintage selling in the ten dollar range like the Trader Joe’s Reserve Oak Knoll Zinfandel 2019 uses different production techniques. This style of wine is made to have bright acidity and juicy fruit-forward flavors. It is also intentionally produced to require less time in barrel and over-all aging.
Winemakers know that the Zinfandel from the Oak Knoll AVA is well suited for the more elaborate winemaking style. This type sells for far more money than the simpler Zinfandel styles, $9.99 Oak Knoll Zinfandel is rare.
So that is where Trader Joe’s comes in; they sell affordable wines, not $70 boutique wine. Like Trader Joe’s Reserve Oak Knoll Zinfandel 2019, offering an affordable wine from a high-end growing region is a treat for value wine drinkers.
The Trader Joe’s Reserve Oak Knoll Zinfandel 2019 is not a $45 wine selling for $9.99, it is a ten buck Zinfandel featuring grapes that are almost never found in inexpensive wine. Bright and juicy wines are the most popular category of wine, so having and bright and juicy wine made from high-end grapes is an interesting drinking experience.
Occasionally these TJ’s Reserve wines are expensive wines being liquidated for cheap; it does happen. But they are typically drink-it-now, young wines that feature grapes usually found well out of this price range. I am fine with that. The alcohol content is 14.8%.
Trader Joe’s Reserve Oak Knoll Zinfandel 2019 Tasting Notes
The color is a see-thru cherry red with black highlights. The nose is rich and ripe; there are scents of blackberry, toasty oak spice, vanilla, black pepper, and light herbs.
This is a dark, juicy Zinfandel with some interesting character and bright acidity. It tastes like extracted blackberry, molasses, licorice, plums, and spice. The mid-palate adds a sharp slap of spice, a salty, chewy sensation, and blueberry.
It is funny, but a typical $10 Zinfandel may feature grapes from 10, 15, or 20 vineyards, but the Trader Joe’s Reserve Oak Knoll Zinfandel 2019 figures to have been sourced from a much smaller selection. So, not only are you getting more expensive sourcing for the grapes, you are getting what the French call “terrior.” That is a wine with a unique sense of place.
- The Trader Joe’s Reserve Oak Knoll Zinfandel 2019 is a wine well worth exploring.
- Do not like this Zinfandel too much. Be forewarned because the next Oak Knoll AVA Zinfandel you find will be selling at 5 times the price.