I found this wine at my local TJ’s prominently displayed, so I am assuming it can be found in most Trader Joe’s stores in the S.F. Bay Area. If you like this style of Chardonnay, this is an excellent bargain. A sign on the display says the wine sells elsewhere for $40. This wine has a full-mouth feel, somewhat creamy, with butterscotch flavor, and a long finish. The “cliche” food match of Chardonnay with buttered popcorn could not be more perfect than with this wine. This will go well with a dish that has a cream sauce.
The interesting part about this wine is that I think it is made from the same grape juice that is in the Chalk Hill 2008 Russian River Valley Estate Chardonnay that sells for $48 at the winery, $29 at Costco. On Monday, we attended the Family Winemakers event in San Francisco and guess who was pouring their Chardonnay? Yes, Chalk Hill Winery. We tried a taste of their Chardonnay and immediately we thought of the TJ’s Char we had tasted over the weekend. As soon as we arrived home from the Family Winemakers, we popped opened a second bottle of our TJ’ Grand Reserve Char and the taste was identical to the Chalk Hill. I checked the Chalk Hill Website for specs and they seem the same as the TJ wine. Both wines come from the Chalk Hill AVA, a sub appellation of the Russian River Valley and both have identical alcohol at 14.9%.
Chalk Hill Winery was recently sold to Bill Foley Estates Wine and perhaps somewhere in the process some of this juice was sold to Trader Joe’s. That is my guess. If you are a fan of Chardonnay, try a couple of bottles of this TJ wine. It is really very good. The only downside is the TJ label. Even though this wine is worth twice the amount, you would not want to serve a TJ labeled wine to important guests or bring it to a restaurant to be corked.