Ever wonder where the wines at Trader Joe's come from? The Carpathian Vineyards Radient Chenin Blanc Viognier is an illuminating example.
The wine is available exclusively at Trader Joe's and sells for $7.99. It has 12.5% alcohol.
I love a good Chenin Blanc Viognier (CBV) blend. We've covered a ton of them here but the reigning king is the Pine Ridge CBV, produced by the high end Cabernet producer Pine Ridge Vineyards in Stags Leap, Napa Valley.
Most recently we've seen Trader Joe's try to replicate the Pine Ridge magic by going to a company that specializes in "recreating" wines. It looks like they are back at it again as they've turned to the same company for this wine, although they've cloaked it under the guise of a high end Stags Leap winery. Sound familiar?
That winery is Carpathian Vineyards who evidently produce just one $84 Cabernet of which only 9 barrels were made. It seemingly makes for a great story except that unlike the Pine Ridge, it's apparently just a facade as both today's wine and the $84 Cab come from Appellation Trading Company, the aforementioned company that specializes in recreating wines. (Click the "Buy Now" button on the Carpathian Vineyards site and guess who's website you end up at?)
Of course we're most concerned about if a wine is worth the cost, regardless of its origins, so let's check this one out.
The 2019 Radient Chenin Blanc Viognier "from" Carpathian Vineyards opens with a pleasing aroma of melon, tart green apple, lime and a little honeysuckle and tropical fruit.
The wine tastes smooth and easy with similar flavors to the nose plus some added peach and orange zest. It also has a soft, round mouthfeel although it's a bit on the flabby side. It ends dry with a medium-short finish.
While not bad for the price, this one is definitely not up to the standard of the Pine Ridge. Of course, it's also a few dollars less. That said, if your local Trader Joe's has the Mbali Chenin Blanc Viognier I'd buy that instead as it gets the same Taste rating at $3 less per bottle (just $4.99).
I should also add that I don't necessarily have a problem with Trader Joe's trying to copy popular wines, I just wish they were a bit more transparent about it.