- 2015 Puerta de Plata, Catalunya, Spain ($7.99 @Trader Joe’s, California)
If memory serves, this was one of the first wines we reviewed on this blog. I recall hyperventilating when I first tasted it, especially given its $7.99 price point and uber classy packaging. It’s a bit of a Trader Joe’s staple, so I found myself wondering on a recent trip whether it was still as good as I remember it. The answer? Yeah, pretty much.
There were two changes that I noticed. One was the bottle. Gone is the expensive custom glass. The other change is the blend. Same grapes (Grenache and Tempranillo) but the percentages are reversed. Where this use to be 60% Grenache (or Garnacha) now it is 60% Tempranillo. Which results in a wine that is a tad less rustic, and a bit more “juicy, fruity” – yeah, that’s a technical term.
But the good news is the price. Some four years after we first visited this wine, it is still just $7.99. Incredible!
Pours a nice dark red, portending good things to come. Aromas are reminiscent of the delicious, dank earthiness of the interior of a winery. Flavors of cherry cola, blackberry jam and black plumb. Smooth and concentrated with just enough tannin to balance the fruit. Would pair well with red meats, pasta and hard cheeses.
Do you ever wonder what I look for when I am scouring the odd bins at TJs and Costco. No? Well, I’m gonna tell you anyway. Haha.
Those of you who are classic rock fans may remember a Robert Palmer song where he sings: “I’m just looking for clues.” That’s me. I’m just looking for clues that a wine might be something really special. And frankly, one is more likely to find such wines at Trader Joe’s. But it IS a bit like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack.
So what WAS the first clue that this might be a special bottling?
There were several, but the first was the bottle itself, or “the glass” as we call it in the trade. This is a hefty bottle. It has a deep punt – that indentation on the bottom – and that is a sign of a more expensive bottle. More expensive bottles tend to be used for better wines. This type of elegant bottle is not one that I am accustomed to seeing on $7.99 wine selling for under $10.
Now, the bottle alone is not a guarantee of exceptional value. It is just one “clue”. After all, a wine that could have been deserving of such a vessel may have passed its sell-by date long ago. Which leads me to one of the other things that attracted me to this wine – its vintage. It’s a 2015. That could be a good thing, or it could be a less than a good thing. It depends on the wine, and whether it was built to be aged.
2015 is on the older side, at least when compared to current vintages in the markets. For red wines, most retailers are stocking vintages in the 2019-2022 range. Wines like this could contain a yellow sticker that communicates “proceed with caution.” That is why I usually only buy one bottle of wines such as this. Any vintage-related concerns I might have had were totally unjustified. This wine drinks like a youngish 2020. It is fresh and still showing nice structure. While some 2015s will have started to age and exhibit brown hues, this one is still a vibrant purple. It’s got lots of life left.
So…I promised to tell you all of the things that lead me to pick this bottle up and take it home (geez, that sounds so dirty) and so far we have touched upon glass and vintage. There were two others things: it was a red wine from Spain, and as I have covered in previous posts, the best red wine values in the world are coming out of Spain and neighbor Portugal. Lastly, it was the grape varieties in this blend: Grenache (40%) and Tempranillo (60%). Spain does both really well. The right grapes, from the right place.
More Wine Picks from Trader Joe’s – or Costco?
If your search for this wine lands you in Trader Joe’s, take along our handy Lucky 13 list of TJ’s wine here.
And if your wine shopping excursions land you in Costco, prepare by grazing our most recent reviews of Costco wines here in our Lucky 13 list.
Happy hunting and, as always…