The VINTJS Paso Robles Syrah 2013 is a $7.99 Trader Joe’s exclusive. Trader Joe’s uses the VINTJS label when they are offered a one time only deal on a limited amount of wine. Here, they indicate this Syrah came from a family owned winery in Paso Robles and if they told you which vineyard the grapes came from you would immediately know who the producing winery is. In France, they would call this a negociant wine, a negociant buys excess wine from established wineries (which ones are kept secret) and either sells it under their own label or blends it with other purchased wines and creates their own blend, again under their own label. I know many people see the under eight dollar price tag on the bottle and think this can’t possibly be any good. But Trader Joe’s has some advantages, first the 2013 was an excellent vintage with an extremely abundant crop, so plenty of excess grapes and/or wine are available at a good price. Second, TJ’s wine do not have advertising or PR budgets and local distributors only have to transport the wines to Trader Joe’s stores and don’t have an army of salespeople on the streets trying to get the wine on to store shelves. The less expensive excess grapes/wine and the reduced built-in costs (these can add up to several dollars a bottle) all add up to a wine that sells for much less than a comparable bottle from a traditional winery. None of this means you are guaranteed to like this wine, but negociant wine is usually less expensive due to price advantages and not cut corners. This Syrah was aged in oak for 6 months and the alcohol contents is 13%.
The color is a clear, see-thru cherry red. The nose is dark plums, vanilla, baking spice and blackberry. This is a medium bodied, fruit forward Syrah, rounded, lush fruit upfront and then the spice kicks in. It starts with extracted blackberry mixed with some sweet blueberry, French vanilla and plum. The mid-palate adds a good dose of spice (but still balanced, not overpowering) with tart cherry. The tannins are smooth and the acidity is in tune with the body of the wine. The finish is light and fruit forward.
In the 2000s, Syrah/Shiraz (Australians call Syrah, Shiraz) were all over the store shelves, Syrah from France, Australia, Washington, South Africa and California were readily available. Then around 2008, Syrah fell out of favor and today it is not uncommon for your local store to have a Cabernet, Merlot or Malbec section but no Syrah section. Maybe a couple of bottles from Australia and a Syrah blend from the Rhone in France, but Syrah has become an afterthought. I could never figure out why Syrah went out of style, it made a fruit forward, easy to drink, but complex value priced wine. At one time it was easy to find a 90 point under $20 Syrah (more often than not, they were closer to $10). The VINTJS Paso Robles Syrah 2013 a rounded, fruit-forward, tasty Red with just enough spice to make things interesting. This is a very solid 8 buck Syrah.