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Seven Peaks Wines, $2.99 @ TJ’s

Melanie Wong | May 12, 200304:24 AM

RUN, don’t walk to Trader Joe’s to scoop up the last remaining cases of Central Coast wines from Seven Peaks winery. A joint venture between Southcorp of Australia (owner of Penfolds and other premium labels) and San Luis Obispo grower recently dissolved and the remaining stock has been liquidated to TJ’s. The wines were originally priced from $12 to $16 retail. TJ’s is selling them for $2.99. They’re at least 200% better (maybe even 400% better) in quality than Charles Shaw for a buck more per bottle.

So far, I’ve tried the 01 Chardonnay, 00 Merlot, 00 Cabernet Sauvignon, and 00 Shiraz. There’s also a Cab-Shiraz, and maybe others yet unspotted. I’d rate these in the 82 to 86 point range with good varietal character and expressive of Central Coast terroir.

The 2001 Chardonnay is cleanly made and a little lean with restrained tropical fruit and lemon peel, well-integrated light oak shadings, and partial malolactic adding some creaminess to the mid-palate but not going overtly buttery. Fresh acid balance gives a nice lift in the end with a crisp finish.

The 2000 Merlot has forward, ripe and round red cherry fruit and soft tannins. A confected fruit bomb with a modest finish and depth.

The 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon has good intensity with cassis and plummy fruit, verging on pruney jamminess, in a supple structure with a moderate finish. Some Central Coast earthiness, cedar, and dried herbal notes mingle with well-modulated oak influence to add complexity.

The 2000 Shiraz is the most characterful, made in Aussie style with liberal use of American oak. Ripe blackberry and plum fruit highlighted with black pepper, saddle leather, pickling spice, menthol/eucalyptus, earth, and burnt rubber. Very broad and open on the palate with light-medium concentration. Some edgy tannins add a bit of astringency to the dusty finish.

All four wines are ready to drink now and should be consumed over the next 18 months for their fresh fruity character. The bottles were purchased at TJ’s in Santa Rosa, San Mateo, and SF-SOMA. Selection varied at each store.



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