If you are lucky enough to live in a “Progressive “ state, one where you can actually buy your wine and cheese in the same store, I envy you. Unfortunately, you can’t do that in Connecticut, it’s illegal. Those of you out there who live in such glorious states may know about Trader Joe’s and some of the unbelievable wine deals you can find there.
I hope you get the opportunity to visit a Trader Joe’s and experience it. If you already have, then you know what I’m talking about. It’s effectively a wine store that grew into a supermarket, according to one employee I talked too. A manager told me that is not exactly true; it was more like a 7-Eleven on steroids. The company was started by Joe Coulombe in 1967. An environment friendly company, about 80% of the products they sell are their own private label. They pay above minimum wage, around $10 to $12 an hour, and today are owned by the German company Aldi.
Joe’s is the exclusive retailer of Charles Shaw vineyards ,and yes at one time you could get a decent bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon for $1.99! Hence the name Two Buck Chuck. The price has risen over the years so now they just call it Up Chuck, but don’t laugh, you could pay $25 a bottle and not get wine as good.
Their method is to go and taste a vineyards wine, and if they like it they buy the whole production of that vineyard. They taste over 100,000 different wines, mostly submitted by California and New World vineyards. Most of these come from what management describes as, “pretty desperate vintners.” The majority are not wonderful and subsequently rejected. However, some are pretty good, and they get national distribution, or at least as far as their production will allow. This means some wines that would never get a chance get to see the light of day get the exposure to a large number of wine drinkers, and of course, the income to grow and improve.
My bottle of Four Buck Chuck comes from Italy. Come on tell me you’re surprised. You’re going to love the name: Grifone, no kidding! It’s a Primitivo from Puglia. Primitivo is Zinfandel, which as you know is one of my favorite wines, and let me tell for $3.99 a bottle you would have no need to hang your head in shame. This was a solid, good-tasting wine.
The color was a deep, deep red with blue hues, indicating a young wine. The freshly poured glass gave off inviting scents of red berries. As I said, the taste was great. Maybe not as spicy or as strong of tannins as a more expensive Zin, but for four bucks this was a totally enjoyable bottle of wine. The only place you can get this wine is at the vineyard in Italy or Trader Joe’s, but I bet they are sold out!