Trader Joe’s Week 2013 Wine #1 – Berton Vineyard The Black Shiraz 2011

The epitome of a great Trader Joe’s wine plus the Trader Joe’s pricing strategy revealed and the type of wine you should never buy there!

[Check out our most recent Trader Joe’s series here!]


The first installment in our weeklong series on Trader Joe’s wine!

Shiraz from Barossa, Australia available exclusively at Trader Joe’s. Purchased for $7.49.
From the bottle:

“The Black Barossa Shiraz is a partnership between some of the Barossa Valley’s pioneering grape growing families dating back to the 1840’s with distinctive individual soil characteristics, that is recognized throughout the world as one of the best grape growing regions for Shiraz. This Barossa Shiraz is a tribute to its heritage, allowing us to produce a full flavoured wine. Inky black in colour with rich dark fruit cake characters, combining hints of black pepper, juicy plums and blueberries. The palate delivers great flavor, length and weight, which follows through with soft firm lingering tannins.

14.0% Alcohol”

Today begins our week long exploration of Trader Joe’s exclusive wines. Just like we did recently with Costco, each day this week I’ll be highlighting some of my favorite picks at Trader Joe’s, which excels in the under $10 category. But before we hop into the wines let’s take a quick look at the Trader Joe’s business model, which is quite a bit different than a store like Costco.

Trader Joe’s really concentrates on creating private label items that are unique to their stores. 80% of their grocery items are Trader Joe’s brands and it appears to be close to that percent for their wine as well. (Although for the wine they don’t actually label many items as a Trader Joe’s brand even though it can only be purchased there.) Unlike Costco who dominates by driving down prices through their buying power and super low margins, the margins on Trader Joe’s wines are actually quite high. Trader Joe’s exclusive arrangements with producers are the key to making this happen.

What you will notice; however, is that the non-Trader Joe’s wines are generally not priced very competitively. For example, I once found a Coppola Claret that could be purchased for $10 at Costco selling for $17 at Trader Joe’s. What gives? It’s all part of the Trader Joe’s pricing strategy.

Basically Trader Joe’s is all about selling their own wine since they make the most money on their private label items. The general market wines are really just there to make their own prices look better. By pricing the general market wines high and their own labels low, it reinforces the perception of value on the Trader Joe’s exclusive wines (and really on all their private label items). At least one local distributor I talked to said that this means few of their general market producers really have any desire to be in Trader Joe’s, as they are just there to look bad. (This is very different than Costco where producers often bite the bullet and take the lower than usual margins because there is so much potential volume.)

My rule of thumb is to buy any wines that are widely available at Costco, plus their excellent Kirkland Signature brand wines. I go to Trader Joe’s to get some great deals on their exclusive wines under $10 (and only on their exclusive wines). And today we are going to start out our series with the epitome of a great Trader Joe’s wine.

Today’s wine is easy in every aspect — easy on the wallet, easy on the tastebuds, heck it’s even easy to open and ready to drink right away! Plus, how can I not like a wine that brings to mind a great Spinal Tap quote. (“It’s like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black.”) But of course, like all the best wines at Trader Joe’s this one is not consistently in stock so it may take a few visits to find it. When you do, stock up!

The 2011 Berton Vineyard The Black Shiraz begins with very pleasant aromas of dark berries, spice and a little dark chocolate. This oh-so-smooth wine tastes wonderful with lots of rich fruit, excellent spice and great balance. And at the end where most inexpensive wines fall short, this one excels with a fantastically long finish featuring more fruit and spice. A fine example of an Australian Shiraz at a smoking price!

Stay tuned for more Trader Joe’s wine picks every day this week!

Wine in the Trader Joe’s Week series:

Taste Rating: 8              Cost Rating: 9
Overall Rating: 8.3

Bulk Buy

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