Hunting for White Wine Bargains at Trader Joe’s

The Back Story:

A couple weeks ago, I offered up a couple red wine bargains from Trader Joe’s (the results of which you can see here) for all of you spending-conscious people out there. During the process, I realized that the single greatest bargain I had found so far (not hyperbole) had as of yet not been committed to writing (or whatever literary verb best describes typing on a keyboard and placing your thoughts in cyberspace (RIP Gutenberg) ).

First, this inspired a flood of parentheticals (as good wines are wont to do), but once I had surmounted my obsession with these wonderful (and addictive) punctuation marks (temporarily, obviously), I opened up another bottle of said wine (for timely research, of course) along with a recommended wine from Catherine Mears (@catmears if you’re a Twitter kind of person).

The two wines we’re going to be profiling today are the 2008 Honey Moon Viognier, my personal vote for the greatest bargain wine out there, and the 2009 Vinas Chilenas Reserva Sauvignon Blanc, my personal vote for… a pretty good wine in its own right.

You don’t have to take my word on the Honey Moon, either. When I first got into the online wine world, I happened upon the Cheap Wine Challenge being hosted by Raelinn at Wine Ophelia. I seconded Dezel’s Honey Moon nomination, which you can see at My Vine Spot. Definitely check it out, as he describes in detail when he entered the Honey Moon into several blind tastings. Of course, the Honey Moon, at $4, dominated the competition. Jason also throws his support behind this gem at Jason’s Wine Blog and gives a little more background for it as well.

Need my word on it still? Fine, let’s go to the board.

The Results:

honey moon label2008 Honey Moon Viognier, from California

The appearance of the wine is a light gold. It displays a fairly high viscosity and appears to have a smooth, full texture.

The nose of the wine is almost entirely tropical. With notes of mango, apricot, and honey, it smells just like mango nectar. At 13.5% alcohol, you can barely tell it’s there. This is a wonderfully aromatic wine.

The mouth feel of the wine is very crisp, full-bodied but not syrupy. It has an active acidity that stands up to the considerable sweetness very well.

The flavor of the wine is also largely tropical. The attack is a wonderful blend of peach and honey with a tropical fruit and minerality blend on the mid-palate.  The medium-long finish consists of mango and grapefruit. The acidity and alcohol match the considerable flavors and sweetness extremely well. This wine has every opportunity to become a syrupy mess, but it exhibits an incredible harmony.

Price ranges from $4 to $6, and it’s worth more than twice that. 9/10

2009 Vinas Chilenas Reserva Sauvignon Blanc, from Chile

Vinas Chilenas Sauvignon Blanc LabelThe appearance of the wine is very pale greenish-gold. The swirl suggests a medium viscosity and a lean texture.

The nose of the wine has a very strong citrus. I’m getting pineapple, peach, and a light, sweet floral scent like honeysuckle.

The mouth feel of the wine is rather light-bodied, a little bit oily, with a firm tanginess.

The flavor of the wine is, like the nose, a heavy citrus. Main fruit flavors are lime and pineapple, followed by a tart apple. There’s a slight hint of tropical fruit and a medium finish of peach. The wine has a crisp acidity, making it off-dry with a noticeable but not heavy sweetness. The alcohol flavor is subdued at 13.5% and props up the flavor well.

This one didn’t wow me like the Honey Moon, but it’s an above average wine at an inches-from-the-floor price of $4 to $6. 7/10

For the Casual Drinker:

The Honey Moon is an aggressive, sweet, acidic, fruity monster. I love to uncork this wine and just relax, letting the potent flavors and sensations wash over me. The Vinas Chilenas is a more subdued specimen, still fantastic in its own right but one that really shines when its paired with a deserving food. Try a chicken or seafood, maybe a creole chicken pasta or shrimp scampi. There’s enough sweetness there to handle a little heat, and the flavors are well suited to either a cream-sauce or a simpler pasta offering.

The Conclusion:

As I’ve generally found with bargain wines, the bargain whites have outperformed the reds. I’ve still got plenty of bargains to choose from, though, so I’m sure I’ll be revisiting this experiment in the near future (sometime when I’m a little cash strapped).

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