Budget Wine Review: La Garenne Blaye-Cote de Bordeaux Red Blend 2016

la garenneWhen you can find no information about a wine online that tells you it is probably a private label wine, made specifically for a retail operation and sold there exclusively. These are usually bulk wines made by large companies and branded by a marketing team. The producers like the guaranteed sales channel with no marketing costs. The retailers like them because they have higher margins and no price competition. They can be decent or dreadful but there is no way to know except to try them.

This wine (not to be confused with Domaine de La Gareene) is probably a private label wine made for Trader Joe’s. The grapes are sourced from the large appellation, Blaye—Cote de Bordeaux, a bulk wine region across the Gironde River from Medoc. The blend is likely Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc.

For $8 this is good value. It tastes a bit like Bordeaux except softer with less acidity than is typical.

Red current, coffee, and graphite with a licorice hint are the dominant aromas. The juice is soft and lean but sports a mineral layer that gives the wine some firmness and heft. The finish features soft tannins and medium acidity with a note of bitter burnt wood that is distracting. A very dry wine with no hint of sweetness,  it feels compressed and lacks expression, with very little movement on the palate. But it’s not trying to be something it’s not. An ordinary, rustic table wine from Bordeaux at a good price. What’s not to like?

Reserved, remote maybe cynical–or just a wry sense of humor, it played well with the Merle Haggard/Ray Price/Willie Nelson collaboration “Pick Me Up on Your Way Down”

Score: 83

Price: $8 (Purchase at Trader Joe’s)

Alc: 12.5%


  1. Absent informative wine label information, I typically avoid imports at TJ’s, except for an occasional Rosé from Provence or Rioja. Also, I notice they are private labeling some California reds with seductive labels like “Grand Reserve Meritage Napa Valley” for $13. Finally, a few acquaintances are nagging me to sample a “wonderful” Kirkland Rioja Reserva from Costco for well under $10. No, Gracias! Have you ventured into any of the Kirkland specials?



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