Welcome to the premiére installment of Taking Fountain's wine review column, The Wine Idiot Reviews, wherein I, a complete and total moron when it comes to wine, review wine you can purchase at Los Angeles-area Trader Joe's, one bottle at a time. I thought about taking a basic wine-tasting class before I started this, but then I thought, hell, most of my readers haven't had a wine class. So why not just tell you how I like these wines before someone tells me how I'm supposed to like these wines? Salud, and let's do this!
UPDATE: Because of the overwhelming popularity of this column, it has become it's very own site. Please visit The Wine Idiot for all of my unqualified wine reviews!!
You know how chardonnay almost always tastes like...chardonnay? Trader Joe's Coastal Chardonnay 2013 tastes like that. I don't usually like that. This isn't an exception.
It's crisper than a "buttery Chardonnay"--if I knew what I was talking about, I might say I taste notes of apple? Melon? (p.s. I really don't like melon either.) And yet still, lurking just behind that first crisp taste of fruit, there is that chardonnay flavor.
It's probably not fair to this bottle that I purchased it. In general, I don't enjoy the taste of chardonnay. However, a TJ's sommelier insisted one day that I purchase a specific bottle of chardonnay--it was one of those Trader Joe's Grand Reserves, with the black label. It was around $15, and he pointed to the bottle directly above it--selling for nearly $30--and said, "It's THIS wine! Just with a different label!! Drink it now 'cause when it's gone it's gone." And sure enough...it's gone. Sadly, it was one of the few chardonnays I've ever truly enjoyed, and I keep buying TJ's chardonnay hoping to recapture that lightning in a bottle.
This Trader Joe's Coastal Chardonnay is not that bottle. Totally drinkable, and if you love chardonnay maybe this is worth the $5. Is it worth the calories to just drink on its own? Nah. It's WAY better when you drink it with the TJ's Spanish Cheese Tapas sampler. Actually...now that I'm swilling it right after the iberico...it got really way better. The crispness is cutting through the cheese in a way a "buttery" chardonnay doesn't so much. OK, Coastal. I don't hate you.
- What the bottle says: "The beautiful, Central Coast of California runs from Santa Barbara County up to the San Francisco Bay. Trader Joe's Coastal wines are made from grapes grown in the Central Coast; vineyards in this region benefit from the cooling influence of the Pacific Ocean. Our Coastal Chardonnay is unoaked with melon and peach notes and a clean, crisp finish."
- What the Wine Idiot says: AHA!!! SEE THAT!! MELON!!! And I didn't even remember reading that!!! I would say that the label is accurate. This is wine. Probably from the Central Coast--and thanks to most of that paragraph on the label, you now know where that is and that they grow grapes there. I thiiiiiiink the "unoaked" part is what makes this chardonnay "crisp" instead of "buttery"? I could totally Google that right now but why bother.
- ABV: 13% (I'm pretty tipsy after one full glass.)
- Who's responsible for this: "Vinted & Bottled by: Castorio Cellars, San Miguel, CA"
- Do I need a corkscrew? Yes.
- What do smarter people say about it? Epicurious apparently likes it: "Priced slightly higher than the Charles Shaw, the Trader Joe's private label Coastal is made by Castoro Cellars in San Miguel, California. You'll find the Coastal priced closer to the $5 mark.The Cabernet, Syrah, Merlot, and red Zinfandel offer even more bang for your buck than the Two-Buck Chuck.The white wines--Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc--are definitely worth every penny, as well."
- Should I bring it to a friend's house? Only if that friend isn't super picky.