The Wine Idiot Reviews: Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Blanc de Blancs ($12.99)
I tend to review sparkling wine around the holidays. For obvious reasons. However, for some reason my eye landed on this Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Blanc de Blancs from Sonoma County the last time I was browsing. I literally had no reason to celebrate the middle of March, but it was a Blanc de Blancs for $12.99 so I figured, what the hell.
It's been in my cabinet for a couple of weeks. Today I had a particularly wretched audition (and no other wine in the house) so I decided it was time to celebrate SIMPLY SURVIVING THROUGH THE DAY. I mean, savor every moment or some shit, right?
I'm into the whole Blanc de Blancs thing because a friend adores the Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs, which you can indeed purchase at TJ's but it's a bit pricier, and I agree that it's quite tasty. You could save a few bucks by buying this instead of the Schramsberg, and if you're thinking ahead (or at least feeling confident that you'll make it to next year) you could stock up for the holidays.
Because that's what I'm gonna do. Honestly. I'm going back and buying two of these bottles and then putting them somewhere where I'll forget about them so I'm not tempted to drink them because OH MY GOD SO GOOD.
This might be some of the best "sparkling wine method champenoise" I've ever had. Now, yours truly isn't particularly fancy, so I don't drink a lot of good stuff of ANY variety, let alone "method champenoise." But in my travels, I've reviewed some and been given glasses of others, and I'm telling you, this is top notch stuff.
I cannot smell anything. I'm getting better at identifying smells in wine, I think, but when it comes to sparkling wine your guess is as good as mine. And also, upon the very first sip, all I could "taste" was fizz. I'm bad at tasting wine. BUT...I stuck with it. And was richly rewarded.
So it's not particularly sweet, in a really good way. I feel like too many sparkling wines overwhelm with sweetness. This is dry and flavorful, but not sweet, exactly. Tastes a little like white grape juice (I WONDER WHY) in that it's got several fruity notes playing around in there, but nothing is overpowering. And it's not treacly like white grape juice--the dryness really balances the fruit I think? I'm having a hard time identifying the flavors beyond "white grape juice," maaaaybe peach? But, like, it's really good you guys.
Can we talk about the finish? I'm not sure what's happening but I love it. It's a little vanilla caramel-ly? About a cheaper sparkler I reviewed a while back, I said I wouldn't drink that for toasting but that it was good with food--this one I would ABSOLUTELY get for just toasting. I also bet it would pair quite well with strawberries, for the record. And I just poured myself a second glass and stuck my face in it before the froth died down and I THINK I SMELLED GRAHAM CRACKER. Remember when I made fun of that one wine review for saying it tasted like graham cracker? I stand corrected. There's goddamn graham cracker in this wine. The finish isn't sour at all, it just calmly settles from a fizzy dance to a mellow delicious caramel-ness.
Bottom line, go get this. Apparently they only made 1,000 cases available.
What the bottle says: "Dry, full-bodied, with lush texture and excellent acid balance."
What the Wine Idiot says: Uhhhhh... sure. Like, I agree 100% with "dry" and "full-bodied." Full-bodied is a good way of describing all the flavor. Lush texture? That's creative, but I like this stuff so much that I'm totally ok with that phrase. And I am not wine-telligent enough to confirm that it does indeed have "excellent acid balance" but I'm willing to bet it does.
Who's responsible for this? "Produced & Bottled by Rack & Riddle, Healdsburg, CA"
Do I need a corkscrew? Nooope. Just keep the basket on and don't aim at anyone's face.
What do smarter people say about it? Y'all, I could not find ANYTHING about this wine anywhere. So I googled "Rack & Riddle," the makers of this wine. And I found this. Apparently this is one of those companies that does private-label wine-making. I truly do not understand enough about the whole wine industry to understand exactly what the deal is here, but I've been digging around their website and they have a blog and I think I love these people. Honest-to-god, I don't understand A SINGLE PARAGRAPH of any of the blog entries. But there's something about this that screams "small business doing good work" instead of "cheap corporate wine." Maybe I'm just drunk. But I love their Sonoma County Blanc de Blancs. And a part of me secretly hopes these people care that some moron with no understanding of wine is greedily guzzling down their product. (I love you guys!)
Should I bring it to a friend's house? Hell yeah. Whether you've got something to celebrate or not. I can guarantee that within a couple glasses, you will feel like celebrating EVERYTHING.