We check out Trader Joe's disappointing third Diamond Reserve wine, the Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon Lot #03.
This wine is available exclusively at Trader Joe's and sells for $19.99.
From Trader Joe's:
You say you’ve never heard of Trader Joe’s Diamond Reserve wines? We suppose that’s understandable, since we’ve deemed only three wines worthy of this title. The third, in fact, is this Oakville Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
If you are unfamiliar with the Oakville AVA (American Viticultural Area) of Napa Valley, suffice it to say, it is home to some of the most prestigious Cabernet Sauvignon-focused wineries in the entire world. And this particular wine comes from what is arguably the most famous and influential of them. (Of course, we can’t tell you which one, because then we’d have to charge you a lot more!)
This ruby red wine is stunning and complex. It is superbly balanced with rich layers of fruit and elegant tannins. As any Cab connoisseur might expect, this red pairs wonderfully with roasted meats and rich, flavorful cheeses. You might also enjoy it with richly sauced pasta and some grated Parmesan.
Cellared & Bottled by Isolated Cellars
The first thing you'll notice on the Trader Joe's Diamond Reserve Oakville Cabernet is that was obviously bottled very recently because the cork was barely stained. This seems to be part of a larger trend of TJ's releasing these wines much too young. Whether that's simply because of market pressure to buy this higher end bulk juice, supply constraints due to wildfires or something else altogether we're not sure, but it's a trend we've noticed pretty consistently now, especially with their private label Cabernet.
Before we jump into the rest of the review, we should also note that we normally don't review wines that don't measure up to at least a Recommended Buy rating. We're making an exception here considering there have only been 3 Diamond Reserve wines to date and we know we will get a lot of questions from readers.
All that said, here goes.
The 2020 Trader Joe's Diamond Reserve Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon Lot #03 opens with aromas of sweet fruit, vanilla and chocolate. It's surprisingly simple.
Tasting the wine reveals lots of sweet ripe fruit and a little bit of spice. Again, it is surprisingly simple and perhaps even a bit sweet. There's nothing distinctively Oakville (or even Napa Valley) about it. I mean, it's perfectly fine if you're paying around $10-12 a bottle for a California Cab, but it's pretty unremarkable, which definitely should not be the case for a "Diamond Reserve" level wine.
It ends dry and a bit grippy on the decent length finish. It definitely does get better with some air but not enough to justify the $20 price tag and by day two it was actually worse.
Overall, it's not necessarily bad, it's just not even close to worth the price. There have been much, much better Cab options in the Platinum Reserve designation which retails for $5 less.
As far as the Trader Joe's claim that "this particular wine comes from what is arguably the most famous and influential" of the "prestigious Cabernet Sauvignon-focused wineries in the entire world", that may very well be true. But let's keep in mind that not only did that particular winery not want this juice for any of their own labels, but that the wineries they are talking about command a huge premium based on their name alone, and not the quality of their wines.