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Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve Pinot Noir Lot 80 

Santa Lucia Highlands, California

California-based Trader Joe's grocery chain stunned the wine world 15 years ago with "Two-Buck Chuck," nickname for the $1.99 bottlings from producer Bronco Wines under the Charles Shaw label. Trader Joe's has sold more than 800 million bottles of it, although Charles Shaw wines now cost a whopping $3, and the chain has expanded its selections from mostly California wines to global variety. This pinot noir is made with grapes from the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA (American Viticultural Area) in Monterey County, an area favorable to the finicky varietal. The area benefits from morning sunshine, brisk afternoon breezes and plummeting evening temperatures, which help the grapes ripen slowly and develop concentrated flavorful wines with good acidity. After vinification, the wine was aged for five months — half in American oak casks and half in French oak. In the glass, the wine offers aromas of cherry, blueberry and cedar. On the palate, taste red berries, spice notes, mocha and soft tannins. Open 15 minutes before serving. Drink it with meat, fowl, roasted vegetables, tuna and salmon. Buy it at: Trader Joe's.


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