- 2013 Puerta de Plata, Catalunya, Spain ($7.99 @Trader Joe’s; California)
More often than not, Saturday and Sunday are my wine exploring days at Costco and Trader Joe’s. It’s probably the same for most of you.
If you are a long time follower of this blog you may have noticed that our regular schedule has us posting on “Thirsty Thursday” – the eve of the weekend. But every now and then I come across a wine that is such a screaming deal that I feel like it can’t wait. This is such a wine…
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. 🙂
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. Also, note in the photo above that the shoulders of the bottle have an intricate design in relief. This suggests that this bottle is a custom mold. Again, a feature that adds expense and certainly not one that I am accustomed to seeing on a bottle of $7.99 wine.
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 2013. 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.
2013 is on the older side, at least when compared to current vintages in the markets. For red wines, most retailers are stocking 2015 and 2016s. 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 2016. It is fresh and still showing nice structure. While some 2013s 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 (60%) and Tempranillo (40%). Spain does both really well. The right grapes, from the right place.
Now I could go on waxing about the aromas and flavors I detected in this wonderful bottle of vino. But that would just keep you from getting out and seeing if your local Trader Joe’s has it cased stacked at the very front of the store like mine did. If you find some, you can confidently stock up.
Happy hunting, and, as always…