Two vegan, organic super Spanish values from Trader Joe’s

Fast facts:

  • 2016 Albero Jumilia, Spain Monastrell ($6.99 @Trader Joe’s,  California)
  • 2017 Albero, Spain Tempranillo ($5.99 @Trader Joe’s,  California)
OMG, that label art!  But don’t let those scare you away.

I am not sure what caught my eye first, the rather hideous labels, or the price.  Or maybe it was the fact that these Spanish reds were labeled as vegan, organic and GMO free.

Let’s just say that a lot of things caught my eye…

But let’s address the labels first. These wines are not the first to display this style of label art, but I think most of the others stopped doing so in the 1960’s! So let’s all agree that the labels are dated, design-challenged and in need of what those of us in the wine business refer to as a “brand refresh.”

But with that out of the way (“aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?”) let’s talk about the wines.

These two Spanish reds are well below our favorite $10 threshold, and I am quite fond of Spanish Monastrell and Tempranillo.  But I must confess that I was braced for one, or both, of these wines to be a dissapointment.  I was pleasantly surprised that neither was.

Although I would not describe either as complex, both wines are very pleasant every day wines. They are similar, and on the lighter side (you could probably fool your friends that they are a California Pinot Noir!) but well put together.

The 100% Monsastrell (same grape as Mourvedre) shows a bit more structure and tannins.  I guess that is why is costs $1 more.  It has nice flavors of dark cherry and a nose of baking spices, violets and blackberries.  It’s smooth and well-balanced. Of the two, I like this one best.

The 100% Tempranillo has a similar taste profile, but is a bit less structured and more fruity. It too is smooth and well-balanced, with clean, bright flavors of red cherry and raspberry.

And did we mention that both wines are vegan?

But wait, how are fermented grapes not vegan, anyway?

Many winemakers use fining agents derived from milk, egg whites, or animal and fish proteins to remove heavy tannins from reds and give white wines clarity. Though removed in the final product, their temporary presence makes the wines nonvegan. Vegan wines replace these with clay or charcoal-based alternatives.

All that said, both the wines ARE vegan, and the back labels of both suggest pairing the wines with “grilled meats, roasted meats or cheeses.”  Maybe it’s just me who finds that a bit tone deaf.

If you’re trying to recover from the holidays and spend a little less on your house wines, I would encourage you to take these two Spaniards out for a test drive.

Cheers!

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