I'm a minimalist. Even when it comes to wine, the simpler the label design the more likely I am to purchase the bottle. So when I tracked down the Syrah, Tempranillo, and Tempranilllo Garnacha produced by the Spanish La Granja winery and sold at Trader Joe's, I was impressed by design alone.
The amazing price helped ($3.99), as did my recent connection with Louis Geirnaerdt via Twitter. Known as the "Lion King," or brand proprietor for La Granja, his passion for his product prompted me to try three of his wines which he affectionately referred to as "the rooster, the zebra, and the piggy."
The growing region for the grapes is found in the Northern half of Spain. Most of my time in that country was spent in Granada, Sevilla, and Barcelona, far from the vineyards producing these affordable wines. Please note that my next trip will not include a single visit to a church or a museum...it's all about the wineries!
Of the three bottles I enjoyed, the "Zebra" is my favorite. Produced in the traditional growing region Carinena, this wine is toted as "an everyday drinking soft rounded juicy wine, with rich ripe raspberry flavors." How can you go wrong with that?! I paired it with sun dried tomato and goat cheese sausages for a spectacular meal.
My second favorite was the "Piggy" from the D.O. Carinena region. Similar flavors to the Zebra but slightly milder to my palate. Third place was the "Rooster," which I will definitely try again despite my awarding it the bronze.
Next time you are in Southern California, swing by a TJ's for your own taste test. You're in for a very pleasant surprise.