Photo: sisterbeer, Flickr
But what most people don't know is that Whole Foods' wine buyers don't just punch orders into a computer. Nor do they sit in meetings with distributors and rely on their input concerning which wines to carry. Instead, they actually travel to wine regions around the world, do a lot of tasting, and make offers to buy a winery's lot so that they can have an exclusive. What this means for the customer is that it might be a lesser-known winery but it's passed a rigorous taste test.
We recently tasted a handful of wines sold exclusively at Whole Foods. Here are our eight favorites. In the spirit of holiday spending, don't fear. These wines are not going to set you back more than $8 a bottle.
Trackers Crossing 365 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, South Eastern Australia ($8)
Unlike some of the other wines we tasted, Trackers Crossing is clearly marked as a Whole Foods wine (each bottle depicts the 365 Everyday Value logo). This Cabernet Sauvignon is fruit-forward with a bouquet of spices and black cherries that evolves into a jammy palate before finishing with soft, silky tannins. Cranberry enters mid-palate, too, for a nice touch that also allows this wine to pair well with most any type of food, particularly roasted or barbecue meats. For a lighter alternative, Gouda or any smoked cheese is a good bet.
Trackers Crossing 365 2009 Shiraz, South Eastern Australia ($8)
An intriguing aroma of violets, smoke and black pepper slips into a balanced, smooth (almost sultry) palate with ripe-cherry and blackberry flavors along with subtle hints of oak. If you're looking for a wine to go with pizza, this could very well be it.
Trackers Crossing 365 2009 Chardonnay, South Eastern Australia ($8)
Pineapple and peach notes slide into a finish that is clean, crisp and toasty, with a kiss of cream.
Piccolo Fiore 2009 Rosso di Sicilia (Red Wine), Italy ($6)
There are many savory qualities to this wine, so go ahead and match it with cheese (aged, preferably) or dishes with fresh herbs or tomato-based sauces. Notes of cranberries are followed by soft tannins.
Piccolo Fiore 2009 Bianca di Sicilia (White Wine), Italy ($6)
Light and fresh, this would be a fun wine to pair with seafood or salads. It's very mineral-y and also contains pear notes and a smooth, barely acidic, profile. If you need to pull out a white to suit different palates, this would be it.
Bubo 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel, California ($8)
For the price, this is an amazing Zinfandel that can likely stand up to Zins in the $20 range. Chocolate aromas intensify with raspberry and blackberry-cobbler flavors and cascade into a silky
finish that lingers. As far as a food pairing, chili, roasted meats or chocolate-based desserts would marry well with this Zin.
Bubo 2009 Pinot Grigio, California ($8)
Lime on the nose carries through to a palate that is not too tart nor too acidic. There are notes of green apples and pears. All in all, this is a very unique Pinot Grigio style that just might bring wine drinkers back to this grape varietal. Drink it with appetizers or solo.
Vieux Papes Blanc de Blancs, White Table Wine, France ($6)
Ideal for sipping with seafood -- for the wine expresses juicy green-apple notes and a nice efferevesence that won't overpower the fish's sauce -- this is a white wine that will likely be a winner with many people, no matter what their wine preferences are. It's approachable and has good structure.