Alternative Dining in CHicago
    
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#31
Posted May 8th 2010, 9:29pm
Zafrika Sauvignon Blanc ($5) turned out to be very good for the money. Dry and not very fruity. So both of the Zafrika's are definitely bargains and perfect for everyday day drinking. I think there are a couple of $8 S. African wines at TJ's that I still need to try and then we will move on to the next country (maybe S. America?) May Fearless Flyer has a Republic SB from New Zealand ($7) that might be worth a try.
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#32
Posted May 22nd 2010, 1:48pm
Pancake Cellar's Big Day White is back (2009). One of our favorite whites. A blend of Chard, Sauv Blanc, Viognier, and Muscat. A deal for $5.
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#33
Posted May 24th 2010, 6:17pm
Alain: You are spot on. The Valréas, Cuvée Prestige (2008 at our TJ) is an excellent buy. It was very good by itself and even better with grilled chicken and ratatouille.
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#34
Posted June 8th 2010, 2:04pm
MortonG: good call on the Zafrika Sauvignon Blanc. It's a great wine for the price.
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#35
Posted July 14th 2010, 12:28pm
I buy most of my wines from TJs. Favorites include:

Zarafa Sauvignon Blanc (I prefer this to the Zafrika, though they are both very good)
King Shag Sauvignon Blanc
Il Valore Sangiovese (great for the price!)
Pacific Rim Dry Riesling
Honey Moon Viognier (sweeter than what I usually drink)
Chariot Gypsy
Trentatre Rosso

This weekend I bought a few new ones (including a pinot grigio & another sauvignon blanc...can you tell which is my favorite? :D). I drink a lot more whites nowadays, but I do enjoy reds as well. Anyone have any good recs?
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#36
Posted July 14th 2010, 12:51pm
I don't know if they still have it as my TJ's on Clybourn was almost out of it the other day, but do try the TJ's Marlbourgh Sauvignon Blanc (this might be the one on the flyer). I am self admitted NZ SB snob. I thought this was very, very good for the $6.99. Very crisp and bright. I find the Zarafa and Picton Bay a bit flat on the tongue.
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#37
Posted July 30th 2010, 9:17am
Tried the red and white Tres Pinos $5 special this week. These are blends. The white (sauvblance, gewurtz, viognier, chard) was a little acidity, just a step above 2$Chuck. The red (merlot, cab, zin, syrah) was pretty good and worth the money. Very smooth and not too fruity.

Also trying their French wines this month(s) working up from the bottom after the great recommendation from Alain on the Valreas Cuvee. Tried the L'Authentique Red Table wine ($5). Label doesn't identify what it is or vintage. Probably on par with the Tres Pinos red. I'll try to work up to the $10 bottles. Hopefully I can taste the difference.
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#38
Posted August 7th 2010, 2:26pm
Cellier du Rhone (Cotes du Rhone) red table wine , $6, is a very good buy. Went well with pork kebab pita sandwich. I think $2Chuck really set a low bar for us. Saves a lot of money.
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#39
Posted August 9th 2010, 2:25pm
Morton G,

Speaking of Côtes du Rhône, may I make a suggestion related to this particular region that In fact, during these scorching dog days that we are enduring in Chicago, would be,I think,a more appropriate choice than the rather non-spectacular and rather alcool-heavy Cellier du Rhône that you tried, and that personally I am not too fond of.
I am talking about the rosé wine from ''La Ferme Julien'', ($5.99 at T.J's) one of the brands from Perrin et Fils company, located near Avignon. This well-established producer and also bottler (in this case they buy wines from various good regional wine growers and assemble the wines), of good Southern Côtes du Rhône, has acquired quite a faithful following of fans all over the world. Some of their wines including the well-made Réserve Perrin that sells at T.J's for $ 9.99, or the splendid Beaucastel, one of the best Chateauneuf-du-Pape money can buy, and of various Côtes du Rhône Villages, like a superb Vinsobres, are sold in the U.S in good wine stores. In this country the Perrin brothers also sell under the trade name '' La Vieille Ferme'', a line of red, white and rosé Côtes du Ventoux and Côtes du Lubéron. These very pleasant, fragrant and refreshing wines are part of an AOC (appellation d'origine controllée- a French government controlled classification) that belongs to the larger Rhône Valley regional appellation is not specifically a Côtes du Rhône since the vineyards are not located on hills located on hills (côtes) or parcels located on each bank of the Rhône river. But they are a few miles away either on the slopes or low elevation plains near the chains of the very beautiful small mountains of Mont Ventoux, near Carpentras, and Montagnes du Lubéron a bit farther South-East.
But they share with the CDR some of the same types of grapes. Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah.
La Ferme Julien rosé 2009 is practically similar to its cousin La Vieille Ferme rosé 2009: 50% Cinsault, 40% Grenache, and 10% Syrah. In fact I sometimes suspect that La Ferme Julien is a ''private labeling'' variation of the same wine.
The result is a charming dry but quite fragrant and fruity blend that goes marvelously well with any type of summer dishes such as Salade Niçoise, lamb chops on the grill, ratatouille, and anything from the barbecue. it is also perfect as a before-dinner drink with small appetizers such as olives, tapenade, anchovies, crostinis, mini-pizzas, or fried zucchinis or eggplant.
And at $5.99 a bottle its quite a treat of a wine for the money.

P.S The red Ferme Julien 2009, also a Côtes du Ventoux selling at T.J's for $ 5.99, is equally delicious, light and fragrant, and is a perfect summer companion to grilled meats, sausages, chicken, and pizza.
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#40
Posted August 11th 2010, 5:31pm
$5 special on Winnefred Central Coast Chardonnay. Label states notes of cinnemon toast, clementine orange, honey and pistachio. If these notes are there, they are overwhelmed by the distinct taste of gasoline. 10 points on the TBC scale. Skip it.
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#41
Posted August 12th 2010, 10:10am
Thanks for taking one for the team MortonG. I can't stomach Chardonnay on a good day, but gasoline, blech.

I wish I would have bought a csase of that TJ's SB. It's all gone at my TJ's. If I would have bought a case, chances are it would have been terrible. :x
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#42
Posted August 20th 2010, 9:09am
Alain is right again on the red Ferme Julien 2009. It's an excellent buy and just as good as the Cellier du Rhone. Can't really distinguish between them as we don't taste them side by side; just have them with dinner. And we are drinking a lot more beer on these hot days. I will definitely try the Rose too. I have a few other (low shelf) French wines from TJ's that I haven't tried yet. Next up is a 2007 Chateau Matalin Bordeaux, another blend of Merlot, Cab Sauv. and Cab Franc. These $6 french wines are making the TJ California specials look pretty bad. Cheers!!!
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#43
Posted August 20th 2010, 8:35pm
MortonG,

Do not waste your time and money on the $ 5.99 Chateau Matalin. This blend is not as successful as the sadly departed Chateau du Buisson, that TJ's used to sell for 4 years until it disappeared from the shelves about 18 months ago for the same price but was much more sophisticated, with a good fruit and acidity balance, and a real Bordeaux'' aroma and bouquet.
It was assembled by the same team from the well-known and usually reliable old Bordeaux ''négociant'' Ginestet.
I still drink Chateau Matalin once every 2 weeks, but recently I really got really bored by its lack of character.

May I suggest instead that you spend 1 dollar less and buy yourself a few bottles of the really juicy, full flavored, and very well-made even though it is still very young, Montepulciano D'Abruzzo 2009 from Villa Cerrina.
I've been following the evolution of this charming red wine since it was introduced at TJ's on Lincoln about two years ago , and for my taste, this 2009 edition, at $4.99 an exciting bargain, is the most satisfying value I have found there for the last 2 years.
A ta santé camarade buveur de vin...
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#44
Posted August 21st 2010, 9:57pm
Montepulciano D'Abruzzo 2009 from Villa Cerrina, bought a couple. I'll give it a go tomorrow night dinner. Thanks for the recommendation.
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#45
Posted August 24th 2010, 5:17pm
Well alain40, I will be forever following your recommendations, I can tell you that. The Montepulciano D'Abruzzo 2009 from Villa Cerrina was so delicious. At first sip, I thought oh this is good, but wait, is it acidic? Gave it a few minutes and had a little food and it was perfect. Really drinkable and smooth. And at this price it's a bonus. As with all my wine testing at TJ's it's always a gamble to go cheap. I will try and buy a case when I go back. I only bought two bottles this time.
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#46
Posted August 24th 2010, 9:01pm
I'm happy that you enjoyed the Montepulciano.
Now, I'm also happy to report that the $5.99 Morgon, is back and at the same price after several months of absence from the TJ's shelves.
To be completely honest this 2007 ''cru du Beaujolais'' assembled by a "négociant'' and therefore not a wine bottled at the '' domaine'' is not the best Morgon money can buy...But at this price (a decent bottle of Morgon usually costs between 15 and 25 dollars) it is a perfectly respectable end of summer Sunday night barbecue companion.
Drink it slightly chilled (about 15 minutes in a bucket of cold water with a few ice cubes) with grilled chicken, burgers, sausages, corn etc.
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#47
Posted September 6th 2010, 9:50am
Trying some of the German wines this month. They are a little too sweet for me. Not many to choose from though. I think I'm about out of countries to try. Any California/Washington recommendations (excluding Chateau Shaw)?
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#48
Posted November 22nd 2010, 10:02am
My wife and I frequent the Naperville location and the wine selection has recently plummeted in quality and value. Lately there has been more duds in the batches we pick up (especially on the red Italian wine side) Are there any good values that you have found that are under $10? Please help!!
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#49
Posted November 30th 2010, 9:36pm
Hope this isn't true. The TJ Italian reds are our favorites, especially the Montepulciano d'abruzzo's. Guess we have a lower bar (usually $5).
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#50
Posted November 30th 2010, 9:41pm
I've been hearing pretty good reports on a TJ's $10 Chateauneuf de pape Much of the talk has been how the wine is a really good
$10 Côtes du Rhône but you get the idea.... I'll be looking for it soon but I don't get to TJ's as much since I found the Fage 0% yogurt at Costco for a couple of $$ less....
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#51
Posted December 7th 2010, 1:00pm
MortonG wrote:Hope this isn't true. The TJ Italian reds are our favorites, especially the Montepulciano d'abruzzo's. Guess we have a lower bar (usually $5).


That's our bar too! :mrgreen: Especially for an everyday wine. We love a good italian red bargain, but lately at the Naperville location it's been harder to find. We just need to try a new batch and hope for the best.
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#52
Posted December 7th 2010, 7:09pm
I'm happy to report that the FERME JULIEN RED,COTES DU VENTOUX AOC is back at TJ's on Lincoln after a 2 month absence.
It is still priced at $ 5.99 which is quite a good price for a decent quality Rhône wine. This 2009 ( a very good year in the Rhône Valley) is simple, dry, medium-body, with a good balance of fruit and acidity. Like most wines from this area it is made of 50% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 15% Carignan, and a nice 15% of Cinsault which add a bit of personality. It is quite good with any simple grilled meat, especially lamb, with charcuterie, and of course with grilled Mediterranean vegetables, and pizza. It is a wine selected by the always reliable Perrin family that owns the famous Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-Du-Pape
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#53
Posted December 20th 2010, 6:39pm
A very satisfying new Bordeaux Superieur at TJ's


The French section of the wine department t at my favorite TJ's on Lincoln Avenue has been quite depleted of good-value Bordeaux for the last 2 months. When I question the staff the answer is always the same: The warehouse is out. Or: we re-ordered but they seem to be out of stock.
Nevertheless, I found a new little gem this week at TJ’s.
Château de Seguin, cuvée Prestige, 2007.
I had tasted this wine in France once and was impressed by its strong personality and honesty.
It has got one star in the Hachette Guide of Wines for the last 3 or 4 years and won many medals in First league competitions: Paris, Bordeaux, LA, Vinalies, etc
This lovely chateau located on a fairly large estate in Lignan- de- Bordeaux, about 10 miles South of Bordeaux in the Entre Deux Mers zone of production, was purchased by the Carl family, an independent group of Danish négociants in 1973.
They also produce a good rosé and a white.
This very seductive wine belongs to the category of Bordeaux Supérieur, meaning that its alcohol content is higher than regular Bordeaux, not necessarily that its quality is superior.
The wine is made of 60% Merlot, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Petit Verdot.
2007 is not a spectacular year like the 2000, 2005, or the magnificent 2009 but, like the 2006, this vintage is getting better as it ages.
I loved its very engaging color, a very dark ruby with hues of purple. The nose seduces you right away with a dense aroma of cassis and perhaps a touch of wood and chocolate.
But it is in the mouth that it develops very rapidly. Good body, well structured, with notes of spices, licorice, cocoa and a great balance of fruit and acidity. Its aroma is redolent of ripe black berry or black currant, and just a hint of oak. The tannins are quite soft and pleasant but the wine keeps its strong earthy terroir integrity.
This wine is aged in oak for a year.
At $ 9.99 a bottle it is a real quality-price ratio find. In fact it was perhaps my best surprise of the year in the Bordeaux under 15 dollars category.
It will be the perfect pairing for a great steak or even some venison.
I already bought 10 bottles and intend to buy more next week.
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#54
Posted December 21st 2010, 12:44pm
Thanks for the post Alain40! I need some additional guidance since my "go to" wines are gone. We enjoy the Trader Joes' Reserve Cabernet from Alexander Valley ($9.99). A softer California cabernet with restrained fruit and a good oak finish.
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#55
Posted January 11th 2011, 8:00pm
Well Read tastes like it's from a well.
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#56
Posted February 1st 2011, 7:41pm
Tried TJ 2008 Reserve Cab Sauv. hoping for a little bit better Cab Sauv. Should be called $10 Buck Chuck. Any alternatives?
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#57
Posted July 7th 2011, 2:55pm
Just tried the TJ's SB reserve. White label, fancy writing, terrible tasting, that is unless you like bubble gum wine. I really wish they would bring that SB that had the nautilus looking thing on it, and the Stellenbosch those were really crisp and fresh tasting.
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