- 2020 Trader Joe’s Reserve Zinfandel, Lot #71, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County ($9.99 @Trader Joe’s, California)
I’ve been fortunate to have travelled to some of the most beautiful wine growing regions in the world, and Dry Creek Valley is among my favorites. Studded with knarly old growth vineyards, it’s an unpretentious premium winegrowing region in northern Sonoma County, California where more than 150 winegrowers and 70 wineries produce world class wines from a wide variety of grapes, including “old vine” Zinfandels for which it is best known. Top Zinfandel producers include Quivira, Ferrari-Carano, Ridge Vineyards Lytton Springs and our favorite, Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves. Best to start your wine tasting at Bella, as once there, you may find it hard to leave.
Like Sonoma, Dry Creek Valley typically has more diversity than the wineries of Napa, due east. This diversity is due to the unique characteristics which comprise many different soil types, elevations and exposures to sun, wind and water. It lies all within a narrow 16-by-2-mile valley, where the nights are cool and the days are warm. In other words, perfect for cultivating wine grapes:
About the Dry Creek Valley AVA:
With a grape-growing history going back 140 years, the compact Dry Creek Valley American viticultural area (AVA) also includes one deli (the Dry Creek General Store, a must stop!) and no stoplights. Best known for its robust Zinfandel wines, this rural wine region is located in north-central Sonoma County, just outside the city of trendy city of Healdsburg and a short drive south from small town of Cloverdale. You won’t need to travel too far from the “dry creek” valley floor to find water. The valley is bookended by the Russian River and the Lake Sonoma Recreation Area.
Pours a deep violet red. Nose of dark fruits, earth and leather. Concentrated flavors of blackberry, cherry, plum, and raspberry up front without being jammy. The finish has flavors of baking spice, pepper, blackberry and hints of oak. Smooth, balanced and medium-bodied, the wine is remarkably well put together for such a young vintage. Would pair well with bold cheeses and barbecued meats with sweet red sauces and spicy rubs.
Oak, what oak?
When you consider that a year ago, the grapes that ended up in this bottling where still slowly ripening in the Dry Creek Valley sun, you can appreciate why there is very little influence of oak aging. (Who has the time?!) This is a pure expression of the grape’s characteristics, and its ample concentration of intense fruit flavors (without the “jamminess” that some Zinfandels exhibit) that are harmoniously blended. This is a delicious wine.
If your local Trader Joe’s carries this bottling, give it a try and let us know what you think by dropping a note here in the comments section or on our Facebook or Instagram posts.
And if your weekend does find you shopping at your local TJ’s, also keep an eye out for our Lucky 13 list of TJ’s wine. It’s a shopping list comprised of our most recent reviews.
Or if you’re headed to Costco, you can find our most recent reviews of Costco wines here in our Lucky 13 list of Costco wine finds.