The 2012 VINTJS Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is an $8.99 Trader Joe’s exclusive label sourced from vineyards in Oregon. A non Trader Joe’s Willamette Valley Pinot Noir that sells for twice the price is considered to be ridiculously low priced, but TJ’s seems to make a habit of under 10 buck Oregon Pinot. The 2012 vintage was great up and down the West Coast and yields were large enough so companies such as Trader Joe’s could find some value in the excess grape market. The 2010 and 2011 vintages were spotty with low grape yields and these sort of wines were fairly scarce on Trader Joe’s shelves. In the past, Wines by Joe produced the Oregon Pinot for VINTJS, but the 2012 shows the wine was vinted and bottled by ABJ Wines from Geyserville, CA., which does not tell you much. The alcohol content is 13.5%.
The color is cherry red with plum highlights. The nose is herbal, cigar tobacco, spearmint gum, a little vanilla and black cherry. This is a medium to light bodied Pinot Noir and slightly watery on the palate. It tastes of subtle cherry, savory mushroom and a light sprinkling of herbs. The mid palate adds some raspberry and soft wash of curry spices. The knock on most valued priced Pinot Noir is that they are too full bodied and not nuanced enough, well the VINTJS is definitely not too full bodied and almost too thin to support all the flavors and textures.
The VINTJS Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is a pretty decent, if a little thin, $8.99 Pinot Noir. If it had just a bit more body it would really be something. It is not a top notch Oregon Pinot, but it is also not priced like one. The VINTJS is not a complete failure, it has some appealing characteristics and would drink well on a tuesday night. But if you were looking for a Willamette Valley Pinot Noir that rocks your world and is insanely bargain priced, keep looking.