It weirds me out that most wines coming through Trader Joe's are just complete garbage. Really, the good wines are kind of few and far between. Lately I have been pretty frustrated by this because Trader Joe's has some editing abilities and I know they can do a better job of culling the herd. I've lost count how many times a wine is good the first vintage and then by vintage two it's turned into garbage, and remains there. And of course, people probably had a good experience year one and just grab year two, and are justifiably left wondering, "What the fuck? Was I insane the first time I tasted this?" I sort of sympathize with Trader Joe's, because especially at the lower price points, it's an enormous economic challenge to get a good product out. By the time you have Trader Joe's marking it up, the distributor/importer/whatever making their money, the winery making their money, and the packaging, you don't really have a lot to work with by the time you get to the actual wine in a $10 bottle of wine, much less a $5 or cheaper one. Still though, have a little respect for your customers. If it's garbage year two, don't sell the fucking thing. You have a lot of power as the purchaser.
This wine, this vintage of this wine, is fucking AWESOME. Without a doubt the best $5 wine that I have had from Trader Joes in a very long time. I'm still scratching my head a little bit, but I'm putting my money where my mouth is--I've had four bottles of this wine in as many days, and I just bought three cases for my wedding (this is going to sell out soon I bet). So go out and grab it ASAP. It's perfect for summer. Limey, just a little pepper, snappy acidity, completely dry, balanced, and a very reasonable 11.5% alcohol. And it has a screw-cap. (Sarah and I actually took a bottle of this to the beach Saturday and had dinner on the beach). So why is this wine so cheap anyway? Hungary is still on the Forint and hasn't yet adopted the Euro (although they plan to soon-ish...That may be why Trader Joe's is able to get this wine on the shelf at $4.99. The Forint has depreciated relative to the dollar by about 30% in the last year. The dollar is only up around 15% relative to the Euro. All this adds up to a cocktail of a great cheap wine. I wasn't aware that Hungary even made Gruner Veltliner, but apparently they make lots of wines like this. It's not just dessert wines like Tokaji. So go and grab this wine before they move into vintage two, which will probably be a steaming pile.
Haven't had a real bottle of Champagne in a while; this was $35 at Costco. Drank this wine with Sarah and Diana, and it was pretty good, if somewhat unmemorable. It was Champagne though (as opposed to Prosecco or something) and was recognizable as Champagne--yeasty with some fruit elements. I suppose not bad at the price, although when Costco has their $20 KS Champagne on the shelf, I don't see why you would buy this if given a choice.
I got this wine as a sample from a PR firm. Thought this was pretty delicious. Barrel notes, berry, plum and spices. Quintessentially Chilean Cabernet based wine--which I have come to associate with earthy, cassis and plum flavors. This was drinking well when I popped the cork, and didn't rip off my tongue with fierce tannins or anything. The winemaker for this estate was previously at Opus One and Mouton Rothschild apparently. Definitely worth a look if you see it for $20 and Bordeaux blends are your thing.