A $7 Trader Joe’s Morellino di Scansano

I keep telling myself to write shorter blog posts and I guess I have not been listening very well. It’s been a while since I did a little wine review here and after reading The Winegetter‘s post about the 2011 Argyle Pinot noir the other day, I realized how happy I was to be reminded of this wine. It’s one I’ve enjoyed in the past and had forgotten all about it.

So here you go. Why not a post that’s a little more “bloggy,” and a little less like a technical abstract or short story? Hopefully I’ll pull more of these out of my hat in the near future.

– –

My friends admit to being afraid to bring “cheap” wine to my house, or serve it to me at theirs. (Don’t get me wrong; I do appreciate this.) But I always tell them, “Who cares? I’ll try it! Not everything I drink is expensive!”

I drink wine with dinner on most nights and it is not as if I can afford a high-class bottle each time. I am always looking for a bargain. Who isn’t?

Most of my collection is Italian—something you might know or have already guessed! And most of what I buy is Italian. Therefore, I am usually drinking Italian. So there is probably a lot I am not sharing with you here, huh?

>> Cringe <<

Yes it’s true.

Okay … so a couple of nights ago I opened a bottle of Morellino di Scansano—I’m not embarrassed to admit—that I bought at Trader Joe’s back in December for about $7. I was curious if it would resemble anything that I would equate with a Morellino (another name for Sangiovese, which is grown in southern Tuscany near the coast). If it was decent, I’d go get more. I love to find those “under $10” wines that are worth going back for.

Well, I have to say, this wine was a bit disappointing—even for $7.

Cala de' Poeti ("Cove of the Poets") Morellino di Scansano from Trader Joe's

Cala de’ Poeti Morellino di Scansano 2012. Morellino di Scansano DOCG. Sangiovese 85% minimum and 15% other red grapes grown within the region.

So on the first night, this was my description. The color is a little more on the brick side of cranberry juice. It’s clear and smells like fresh raspberries, dried cranberries, and burning pine. On the palate it resembles what you might imagine pasteurized strawberry juice to taste like. And the finish? Well, it gives me the same feeling I get when I shake someone’s limp and clammy hand. Yeah that good. And bitter too.

But the second day, lo and behold, I tried it again. Fully braced for vinegar, I was pleasantly surprised. The smells had evolved to Concord grapes and cinnamon. The palate had firmed up as well. While still a little bitter in the finish, it was a lot more drinkable the next day.

Would I buy it again? Maybe. When I first tried this wine, I wondered what the winemakers were actually doing to “make” this wine. Flipping switches and taking smoke breaks? But the next night, shockingly, it didn’t seem so bad.

Maybe next time I need a bottle for cooking, I’ll buy it again. But I’ll probably stash a glass away to try again the second day.

10 thoughts on “A $7 Trader Joe’s Morellino di Scansano

  1. I’ve just thoroughly enjoyed this wine over the last few days. One valuable tip for the best wines and those more budget varieties… always decant! The fact you enjoyed the second day is testiment that there is inherent goodness. I will have it again.

  2. Hi Marci. Don’t know very much about Italian wines. But I know an excellent blog when I see one.

  3. Marci, have to tell you I enjoy finding a bargain wine as well, but what really troubles me is that almost everything at TJ is either a wine dumped by the winery cuz there is something wrong with it, or it has been seriously doctored with sugar to disguise faults.
    BevMo, IMO is just as bad. They rarely have anything really good unless you are willing to pay for the very few really good wines they have. That whole thing about the second bottle for a nickel is purely their play on getting rid of deeply discounted wine cuz its crappy.
    The biggest farce with BevMo is the ratings they place on the wines, by “Wilford Wong”. While he might have previously had some credibility as a wine judge, I don’t understand why anyone would accept his ratings on the wines at BevMo when he is the one buying them. Makes me nuts, but oh well!

    1. My next response is that I can’t believe that people are actually discovering Ruche. It is my understanding, and please correct me, that this grape is only known around the area of Moncalvo where my Piedmontese roots are from. I have only found one example and that was from K&L Redwood City. This is exciting to me when I learn of new grape varieties that are only a few miles from where where my family has its roots in the tiny town of Caschina Franchi, next to Moncalvo.

      1. Well, I admit to not knowing exactly which village Ruche is supposed to be from but I know it is prolific in the whole Monferrato area. I associate it with “Monferrato” in general. The main growths are concentrated from around Moncalvo, east to Casale Monferrato, south to the autostrada and west a bit. The main village, as far as I know if Castagnole Monferrato, which is where the producers I know are located; there is also a coop in that village where you can try lots of them. In the western parts of the Asti region, they grow it too and blend it sometimes with Freisa and Barbera. It’s less “serious” out that way but still makes good table wine. 🙂 Yay! Ruche! I love that stuff.

    2. Ken, I hear what you’re saying. I don’t buy wine at BevMo b/c I know it is all reject wine, off vintages, and close-outs. It is amazing that they can get away with it on such a large scale. My interpretation of TJ’s wine is that there are some decent wines at good prices but those are the few over $18+. Of course, those are risky. But the bulk of their wine is mediocre wine at really cheap prices, with the occasional gem. I feel like they are more straightforward than BevMo about what they are actually selling you, however. Then there is Cost Plus, where I feel like they do have deals but you have to stay in the $10-$18 range. Anything below isn’t likely to be good and anything over $20 isn’t worth the risk.

  4. Thanks for the shout out! I know we shouldn’t expect too much of these lower $$ wines, but I am still always a bit disappointed. It’s a good reminder to give wines we initially aren’t fond of another night to see where they’re headed. 🙂

    1. It’s true. It is always entertaining and I’d say, usually surprising. Some of the worst wines actually get better and some you expect to get better, get worse. One scary thing I’ve discovered is that often the value “corporate” wines stay tasting the same for days. It’s a good thing from a value stand point, but it makes you wonder what they are putting in that stuff …

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