I've long held that Fresh & Easy does better with Old World regional (e.g.the Reflexión Rioja Reserva)and New World varietal wines (e.g.McGuigan's Handmade Barossa Shiraz) while tending to struggle with domestic offerings. The recently-released WineWright series of premium-appellation California varietals may tip this balance. Given the price and grape sourcing (Napa, Monterrey) this line seems poised to compete with the likes of Trader Joe's in-house Napa reds (such as their Vintj Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon and Napa Meritage). If the WineWrights Cabernet Sauvignon, sourced from the Napa's Rutherford sub-appellation, is any indication, Fresh & Easy has progressed by leaps and bounds from its previous California entries, notably the underwhelming Clairville Russian River Cab.
The wine opens with dried raspberry, menthol, and something a bit cedary on the nose. A pleasant, subtle jamminess characterizes the flavor profile, which is distinguished by notes of dark ripe plum, tar, and spice. The astringent tannins loosen up after twenty minutes or so and give way to moderate oakiness and a richness that is still structured rather than unctuously velvety (this is a flaw I've noticed in TJ's otherwise tasty Napa Meritage).
As for the price ... even in the current context of depressed prices for Napa Valley grapes, you don't come across many Rutherford Cabs at ~$11; that this Cab actually tastes like it's from Rutherford is impressive. Quality wine at a reasonable price: I hope this is a harbinger of Fresh & Easy's future direction in California.
Total value: 13/15