Front label of the 2015 Trader Joe's Gran Reserva Rioja Lot #120. It's rarity for two reasons. The price and its red label.

There’s Something New and Exciting in the Spanish Wine Section at Trader Joe’s

Fast Facts:

  • 2015 Trader Joe’s Gran Reserva Rioja Lot #120,  Rioja, Spain ($12.99 @Trader Joe’s in California)

A few months back, our Wine of the Week (hereinafter, WoW!) was a Crianza Rioja, also from Trader Joe’s.

You have no doubt memorized that review, in case of a pop quiz.  But in case your memory is as slippery as mine, let me reiterate some of the key facts shared therein:

Rioja is one Spain’s most famous wine regions and is one of only two regions classified under the Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOCa) system. Its two most important red grapes are Tempranillo and Garnacha.  This particular wine is Tempranillo, one of our favorite old world red wine grape varieties.

When it comes to Rioja reds, there are 4 categories of ageing to keep in mind:

  1. Joven – there are no specific requirements here, but these wines tend to be 1-2 years old.
  2. Crianza – these wines are in their 3rd year, with at least 12 months spent in oak barrels.
  3. Reserva – when excellent vintages are selected to become Reserva wines, they spend 3 years aging, 12 months minimum of which is in oak, followed by 6 months in the bottle.
  4. Gran Reserva – wines carefully selected for this process must undergo a minimum of 60 months aging,  of which 2 years must be in oak barrels, with another 2 years spent in the bottle.

You read that last bit right, Gran Reserva wines must be aged for 5 years (!) and it is the highest designation awarded in Rioja. This is Lot #120 spent three years resting in oak barrels, and three years chilling in bottle, before the Gran Reserva label was slapped on and it was on its way to the store shelves at TJs.  That is why you don’t need to fear the 2015 vintage.  This aging imparts the “mature” qualities one looks for in a wine such as this.  It is undeniably from the Old World.

It is a rare thing to see a Rioja Gran Reserva for $12.99. We’d like to tell you that this wine tastes like Gran Reservas we have had at 4-5 times the price but honestly we can’t. It was likely comprised of barrels that didn’t “make the cut” for the top cuvee.  But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deliver good QPR for the price point. It does.


Store display of the 2015 Trader Joe's Gran Reserva Rioja Lot #120. In the Spanish wine section.
If your local TJs is like mine, you will find this label in the section devoted to Spanish wines.

Tasting Notes:

Pours a lovely warm red color with a surprisingly clear rim given its age.  Opens with aromas of cigar box, dark red fruit and leather along with toast, mint and balsamic.  In the mouth the wine shows smooth tannins., but we found it to be a bit lighter than expected. It showed more depth and classic Rioja style when revisited on day two.  This one might benefit from a long decant before serving. It has an impressively long finish where the flavors continue to unfold and encourage another sip and perhaps some hard cheese and charcuterie.

14% ABV

Spanish wine, in a Spanish wine glass alongside some seasonal flowers, also from Trader Joe's.
Spanish wine, in a Spanish wine glass alongside some seasonal flowers, also from Trader Joe’s.


Stop back next Thursday (or make it easy and give us a follow) to discover yet another Wine of the Week.  We live to Wow! you.


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.

Happy hunting.



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