The Wine Idiot Reviews: Trader Joe's Platinum Reserve Russian River Valley Pinot Noir Lot #33, 2014 ($14.99)
Full disclosure: it is the day after Hillary Clinton lost the election, and she is a personal hero of mine. If that pisses you off and you decide you want to get your wine reviews elsewhere, so be it. I am cranky and not willing to put up with bullshit today. OK, truth be told...I'm devastated. Completely devastated.
I came out to my parents' house to spend election night with my mom (it was supposed to be a big ol' celebration that turned into a wake). She, ever the trooper, has spent today doing what all the moms I know are doing--telling their children it's going to be ok and yes you still have to be nice to other people and no you cannot grab anyone by the pussy. She was going through the mail and tossed the Fearless Flyer to me. It was the Thanksgiving Edition. Oh yeah, I thought. The holidays are coming. Joy to the fucking world.
Avoiding both my phone and the television, I started flipping through it. This one's always fun because it's chock full of Trader-Joe-y takes on traditional Thanksgiving fare--five different ways to get your cranberries, and Breaded Turkey-less Stuffed Roast with Gravy, for example. And of course...the wine.
If you remember last year, I tasted a Zinfandel and Grüner Veltliner for my mock-Thanksgiving taste test extravaganza because I wanted to do something different than the "all-purpose, when-in-doubt-choice, pinot noir (which could be considered cranberry sauce in a glass)," even though conventional wisdom is to serve an American (because patriotism, which I'm not sure I have anymore) pinot noir and/or chardonnay.
So this year, I was already thinking about doing an American pinot noir. And right there in the Fearless Flyer was an ad for a Platinum Reserve Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma. The only other time I've splurged on a TJ's Platinum Reserve bottle was that freaking awesome chardonnay, and it was soooooo good. So, in light of recent tragic events and what seemed like a small sign of goodness in the world, I decided to splurge on the $15 bottle.
NOT DISAPPOINTED. I think this is actually a perfect bottle of pinot noir for Thanksgiving. It's a gorgeous ruby color in the glass so it will look beautiful in the glass, and it's also pretty damn tasty. It's in the family of my favorite pinot noirs--dry, a teeny bit fruity, little bit of spice. This is definitely on the lighter-bodied side, but I think that makes it great for turkey. I tasted lingonberry, which means I tasted berry flavors but it didn't taste like jam, and somehow this quality always reminds me of the lingonberry juice you get at IKEA.
I supposed it's not WILDLY complex? I don't have a very sophisticated palate, though, so maybe it is and I just can't tell. But I found it to be just a lovely, quality, crowd-pleasing pinot I would not be ashamed to serve to friends, relatives, and even Hillary Clinton if she somehow ended up at my table.
What the bottle says: Nothing. The Fearless Flyer, however, has tons to say: "A classic Pinot Noir, the smooth, dry style still has a fruity quality. Dark red cherry and plum notes harmonize with hints of mocha, anise, and spice, easing toward an elegant finish. The winery from which it comes would offer the same juice for $30 or more under a different label, but due to our great relationship with them, we can offer this phenomenal wine for $14.99*. We’d usually sell this kind of wine—representing the best qualities of its region—under our prestigious 'Grand Reserve' label. In this case, however, the value is so superb, we’re using our special silver-colored label (replacing the typical black and gold), and we’re calling it our 'Platinum Reserve.'"
What the Wine Idiot says: Yuuuup I can totally get behind that description. But, like, when they say "hints," they really mean hints--the anise and spice elements are not at all dramatic or overpowering. I just think this would be great with food.
ABV: 14.2%, so you can manage to get through dinner with your family members who voted for Drumpf.
Who's responsible for this? "The Vine Intervention, Napa, CA" BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA GET IT?!?! The VINE Intervention?!!? That's hilarious. That just made me so happy. It has been a dark, dark day my friends. I needed this ray of light.
Do I need a corkscrew? Yes.
What do smarter people say about it? Joe over at Good Cheap Vino has this to say about the 2013 vintage (I couldn't find any reviews of the 2014 vintage): "Overall, I found the Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve Platinum Pinot Noir a very enjoyable wine with a medium body and a very healthy finish. The TJ Platinum Pinot lacked the spice that I find in most Russian River Valley Pinot Noir wines. I definitely give this Pinot Noir the nod over the Meiomi Pinot Noir, the most popular Pinot around for under $20. It is more balanced and not nearly as heavy as the Meiomi."
Should I bring it to a friend's house? I'm gonna stick with what I said last year. If you're going to a Thanksgiving dinner where you are trying to impress folks with your ability to pick a pinot noir (but you don't want to break the bank), I would go ahead and bring a bottle of Au Bon Climat. HOWEVER...if you're going to your parents' house and you know they'll love you no matter what you bring (hi mom and dad!), this will be a very pleasant surprise. It's worth the $15.