Wine of the Week: Panilonco Carmenere Reserva

Wine: Panilonco Carmenere Reserva

Grape: Carmenere

Region: Colchagua Valley, Chile

Vintage: 2012

Price: $4.49

Availability: Trader Joe’s

In the glass: Panilonco wine is a deep ruby-red color with a firm semi-opaque core going out into a fine pinkish-red rim definition with medium-high viscosity.

On the nose: This wine is like the purest black currant extract ever; simply emanating pure crushed sun-ripened cassis fruit freshly picked from the bush with Ribena notes, black currant liqueur and touches of boysenberry jam.

On the palate: This medium-bodied and juicy wine is full of creme de cassis, boysenberry juice and flighty phenolic compounds that materialize in good amounts of dry black fruit extract, black grape crush and healthy doses of old English licorice notes. The midpalate is juicy and supple with firm tannins that are never obtrusive and remain harmonious with the fruit and underlying acidity. The finish is lingering and pleasant with just a good anise kick at the end.

Odds and ends: I decided to do a fairly comprehensive tasting of wines, all found at Trader Joe’s exclusively and all less than $10. The results were nothing short of tremendous and it remains clear that Trader Joe’s has what is probably the greatest range of superb value wines in this super-competitive price category. No less than 100 wines and counting are to be found with prices ranging from $1.99 for the Vola Italian wines, then $2.99 for the now well-known Charles Shaw range, aka Two-Buck Chuck (it is usually $1.99 in California) up to a whole host of delicious wines including Chianti Classico Riservas and wines from Bordeaux from top vintages. How is this all possible, one might ask? We have the most competitive and versatile wine retail market in the world. As a consumer advocate it naturally brings great joy to have this plethora of wines to taste through and recommend, and they change quite often yet somehow manage to stay in this value range. This Panilonco Carmenere is but one of the many interesting wines found at Trader Joe’s. It comes from the tremendous appellation of Colchagua, south of Santiago, and from the great 2012 vintage. Try it with a juicy grilled burger. Open it about one hour before consumption to let it breathe. Drink now through 2017.

Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89106-0749, or email him at