The Wine Idiot Reviews: Trader Joe's Petit Reserve Pinot Noir Arroyo Seco, 2014 ($7.99)

The Wine Idiot Reviews: Trader Joe's Petit Reserve Pinot Noir Arroyo Seco, 2014 ($7.99)

I picked this up initially for a wine night with a girlfriend who'd requested a light, dry pinot noir. I honestly wasn't expecting much--I feel like the Trader Joe's "Petit Reserve" labels are usually pretty hit or miss. But we both LOVED this one. In fact, we loved it so much, that we drank the whole bottle and had so much fun catching up that I did a piss-poor job of taking any notes.

So on my next trip to the Joe's, I grabbed another bottle! I don't think I've ever done that before. I wanted to tell you about it THAT BADLY.

In the glass, it is a very light red, maybe even a deep rose--but so light that it's almost transparent even when you pour a full glass. It smells NOT like yeasty alcohol. I couldn't put my finger on what it smells like, to be super-real with you. It just smelled delicious.

Now here's the weird part. The first night, we weren't eating any food with this wine, and I had a glass of this after that Chateau Haut-Sorillon Bordeaux. Consequently, I found this pinot noir to be "amazing, juicy berry!" Yeah, that's all I wrote down that night.

The SECOND night, however, I broke this out after eating a slightly spicy turkey sandwich. This wine tasted very, very different after that. I tasted the dryness so much more, and the fruit so much less. But I could still make out the lingonberry (?) notes, complemented by something so exquisitely delicious but unnamable. This is where it really sucks for you that I don't know what I'm doing. I wish I could describe this flavor, but I'm really lacking the vocabulary. It was a richer, more wine-specific sort of flavor, without tasting dirty or super "organic." It's smooth as hell, with just a teeny tang on the finish.

And yes, I finished the second bottle all by myself. This is a winner.

Sorry about the yellowness of this photo. I lost the light before I could get this sucker in a glass, so the lamp had to suffice. I understand this doesn't really help you see the true color of the wine. But at least you can see how almost-transparent it is, right??

Sorry about the yellowness of this photo. I lost the light before I could get this sucker in a glass, so the lamp had to suffice. I understand this doesn't really help you see the true color of the wine. But at least you can see how almost-transparent it is, right??

What the bottle says: "This delicate Pinot Noir is dry, but fruity with black cherry and raspberry notes, hints of vanilla and spice leading to a smooth finish."

What the Wine Idiot says: Definitely agree. VANILLA AND SPICE. That's the indescribable flavor I was trying to name. Dessert-y but without being sweet, earthy without being dirty/leathery. Yes.

ABV: 13.5%

Who's responsible for this? Estate Grown, Produced & Bottled by Blue Canyon Wine Company, Greenfield, CA" Now, I've been learning just enough to know that when I see a wine that is "estate grown, produced, and bottled" all by the same company, that means it's an honest-to-goodness fancypants winery where they do everything--from grow the grapes to bottle the wine--right there in one place. I have ALSO learned that "Blue Canyon Wine Company" is probably the fake name for a fancy winery that sold its excess to Trader Joe's at a deep discount; they hide their name so as to not undercut the price of their ACTUAL, appropriately-labeled wine. Domaine Dave at Cheap Wine Finder explains it much better, about a different wine from the same place: "The Trader Joe’s Petit Reserve Monterey Merlot 2012 is a $5.99 TJ’s exclusive and believe it or not, it is estate grown, produced and bottled by someone. The back of the bottle says Blue Canyon Wine Company, Greenfield, Ca., they are a front company and not an actual winery. There are 175 vineyards in Monterey, too many to guess the source. But if you see a list of wineries located in Greenfield, there a couple of likely candidates. This is a negociant wine, which means TJ’s purchased somebody’s excess wine and by contract can’t reveal the source, since it is being sold for far less than the original. The Petit Reserve Merlot has some sort of oak conditioning (a negociant wine can’t give out any particulars that could disclose the producing winery) and the alcohol content is 13.5%." FASCINATING, RIGHT???? That post was published in 2015, so next time I go back to the store, I'm gonna look for more Petit Reserve labels with the same provenance.

Do I need a corkscrew? Yes.

What do smarter people say about it? Couldn't find nuthin' about the 2014 vintage--over at Livingly, they had this to say about the 2013: "When’s the last time you had reserve-quality wine with a price tag under $10? Yeah, thought so. This smooth, fruit-forward California Pinot Noir is a keeper." And Trader Joe's explains how it acquired this wine in the Fearless Flyer: "The word “Reserve” on Trader Joe’s wines, indicates something special—a limited quantity from a premium growing region, offered as a terrific value. Now and then, we’ll acquire a Reserve-quality wine at a significantly lower retail—a “Petit” price, if you will. The wine-at-hand fits right into this “Petit Reserve” category. It’s estate grown in a relatively petit area south of Monterey Bay called “Arroyo Seco.” The climate is cool with gravelly soil that absorbs daytime sun, helping to keep the grapes from freezing on chilly nights—perfect for the longer growing season preferred by Pinot Noir. In this case, you’ve got a smooth, fruit-forward California Pinot Noir, with a long and luxurious finish. It’s Petit on everything, except flavor!"

Should I bring it to a friend's house? If you're catching up with someone you haven't seen in awhile, you might wanna bring two.

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