- 2020 Monique Cellars, Central Coast, California ($6.99 @Trader Joe’s, California)
- 2020 Trader Joe’s Reserve Lot 224, Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, California ($9.99 @Trader Joe’s, California)
Ever study wine consumers picking out wines from a sea of labels? I do, but after some 30 years in the wine business, I can’t help it. They scan the front labels on the store shelf and look for one that jumps out at them. Wine brands spend ungodly sums of money to create labels that scream “pick me, pick me, pick me!”
But when I am looking for interesting wines, especially ones at Trader Joe’s and Costco, I quickly turn the bottle over and study the back label. Some times it’s a dead end, especially with imports. But with domestic wines, often times there are clues that the wine might be a really great value. The Monique Cellars wine is a good example. This is what is known in the wine trade as an exclusive label. In other words, it is made exclusively for Trader Joe’s. You may be crestfallen, but there is no Monique Cellars winery and tasting room on the Central Coast. That may be a GOOD thing…less overhead, higher QPR.
The back label reveals that Monique is made by Miller Family Wine Company in Santa Maria. Well, it just so happens that the Miller family own some of the most acclaimed vineyards on the Central Coast. They are a fifth generation wine family with roots going back to the 1800s. They also own wine making facilities on the Central Coast. So they can harvest fruit from their own vineyards and turn it into wine in their own facility. Talk about cutting out the middlmen!
Clean, clear pale yellow color in the glass. The nose is citrus, ripe apple, orange blossom, peaches, and lightly floral. There are even some hints of sea salt which may sound odd but I find complements acidic white wines. Nice round mouth-feel and a compatible flavors. The acidity isn’t as bright as some Sauv Blancs which makes the Monique Cellars seem slightly subdued. Nice long finish.
From a little further up the road…
Pours a pale golden hue with nice clarity. Show a floral nose with hints of tropical fruits, citrus and pear. Finishes clean and crisp and with long notes of vanilla and spice.
Sauvignon Blanc is best when produced with minimal winemaker intervention, and served fresh with little or no contact with wood barrels. What you do find is, like with most grapes, where it is grown influences the flavor profile. With “SauvBlanc” the cooler the climate (New Zealand for example) the more bright and acidic the wine. Monique, being from the temperate Central Coast is somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. Napa, warmer still than both, produces renditions of this wine that are softer, riper and more expressive.
Speaking of back label discoveries. This particular wine was produced by Precision Wine Company of Napa. Trader Joe’s and Costco shoppers are likely to recognize this name.
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.