Carneros Chardonnay wines are rarely cheap. Bordering on San Pablo Bay just north of San Francisco, Carneros gets cool ocean breezes and morning fog that makes it a good place for growing Chardonnay (and Pinot Noir) grapes.. That's why I was intrigued when I saw this wine selling for $7.99 at Trader Joe's.
Research by Domaine Dave at cheapwinefinder.com found that the Tempest Bay label is not owned by Trader Joe's but rather by a highly respected Sonoma winery that apparently is reluctant to cheapen its image by selling its wine for under $10. That could be because the winery has a surplus of wine that might otherwise command a higher price. Or it could be that the winery contracted with Trader Joe's to make a less expensive version. Domaine Dave concludes that "you can't infer too much other than they do know how to make high quality wine."
I don't have much experience with tasting Carneros Chardonnay, but I can say that I find this bottle attractive. Oak barrels are expensive; most Chardonnays selling for less than $10 a bottle substitute oak chips, which impart what I consider cheap aromas and flavors, not at all attractive. A better alternative is to produce an unoaked wine or one using mostly seasoned barrels. That's what I find in this wine. Yes, there are some vanilla scents but mostly I find green apples, pears, honeydew melon and spicy minerals. There is substantially more acidity than you get in most $10 Chardonnays, and that is what I like. I will go back for more.