- 2020 Trader Joe’s Diamond Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District, Napa Valley, California ($19.99 @Trader Joe’s, California)
Some of you may be familiar with unoaked Chardonnay bottlings. These are wines that are not fermented or aged in oak casks. Most Chardonnay is. The winemaker’s motivation is to let the resulting wine be a pure expression of the fermented grapes alone. If you’ve never tried one, I recommend seeking one out, if only to taste what the wine flavor profile is like “as nature intended.”
Many wine lovers don’t realize that a lot of the flavors we like in oak-aged wines are not derived from fruit but are actually imparted by the oak itself. Oak casks and the toasting regimen they are subjected to result in delicious notes of toast, vanilla, baking spice and, not surprisingly, wood. (Although critics like me tend to eschew the ham-handed “wood” descriptor and opt for more esoteric descriptions like sandalwood, or cigar box.)
Reserve Cabernetr 24-36 months, you understand that since this is a 2020 (that is to say, it was harvested about this time last year) there was not a lot of time aging and imparting of oak flavors. That is not to say it is not a nice wine. It is in fact really, really delicious. And it does have some really nice structure, but those tannins are compliments of the skins rather than oak. Unlike many pricey Cabernets, the flavors here are driven predominantly by fruit, not oak. After all, 60 gallon oak casks are expensive – roughly $1,000 per barrel – and they yield just 288 bottles of wine. So you can understand that for $19.99, you are not likely to find grapes from the Stags Leap (aka high rent district) of Napa that have been aged in new oak.
To paraphrase Forrest Gump, “that’s all I have to say about that.” We will let this entry from the most recent Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer take it from here:
“We’re very selective about the wines we adorn with the Trader Joe’s Reserve label, and even more so for the Grand and Platinum Reserves. So you can imagine what level of selectiveness at work when we introduce something into the Diamond Reserve – only the absolute best of the absolute best. That’s precisely what you’ll find in every bottle of Trader Joe’s Diamond Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.
It comes to us from the Stag’s Leap District of Napa Valley, home to some of the most celebrated wineries in the history of American wine-making, from a prestigious vineyard whose identity we’ve sworn to keep secret. With all seriousness, we can’t even give you a hint—other than the fact that our price tag of $19.99 is a fraction of a fraction of the price you’d normally pay under their label.
Rich, dense, and superlatively satisfying, with layer after layer of complex, dark fruit, this Cabernet is on a level all its own: a positively essential acquisition for any appreciator of Napa Cab. It’s a powerhouse of flavor, with a fiercely solid structure that will have you singing “O, Tannin-Bomb!” all holiday season long.
Pick up a bottle as a gift, pick up an extra to lay down and age to perfection, just be sure to pick them up while you can—we bought up every drop we could, yet supplies are still quite limited. Until we run out, we’re selling 750mL bottles of Trader Joe’s Diamond Reserve Stag’s Leap District Cabernet for $19.99 each. Look for them in the wine section.”
Need 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.