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Ok, I know what you’re thinking. Another Pinot Noir review? Can’t she branch out and try something different? Sure, I could, but hear me out. This Pinot Noir is from New Zealand, received 90 Points from Wine Spectator, and is only $9.99 per bottle at Costco. Also, it has this cool “Cat in the Hat” screwcap, so described to me by the young lady who checked me out.

New Zealand is already on most people’s wine radar as being The Place to buy Sauvignon Blanc from these days, and if you peruse any given Pinot Noir section of a wine department, you’re likely to find little (if any) from New Zealand.

But why?

I believe these wines aren’t as popular because of the unusually light structure that they tend to exhibit. To add to this, the juice is quite dry and earthy, perhaps too much so for the average American palate. I will keep this is mind when tasting this wine for you, the average American.

Let’s touch briefly on the 90 Points from Wine Spectator. I only want to remind you that wines are not rated on deliciousness or in any sort of comparative format to other wines of the same varietal from different areas. A 90 Point New Zealand Pinot Noir is probably a good example of a wine that tastes like a New Zealand Pinot Noir.

On top of that, the wine is probably fairly well-balanced, not overly simple or one-dimensional, and devoid of any faults. You should really only care about a highly-rated New Zealand Pinot Noir if you know that you like New Zealand Pinot Noir.

I like the weight, shape, and deep punt of this bottle. I love screwcaps on red wines because I know they won’t be corked, although sometimes the wines need extra time to breathe since very little air is introduced with these types of closures.

The juice is light and translucent with a pleasantly pungent nose of ripe strawberries, orange rind, and vanilla. The wine is flavorful and tart, with a savory black pepper quality. The structure is there even though the tannins are very mild. There is a very astringent, pink-grapefruit thing happening as well.

Although it’s not the style of Pinot Noir that I personally prefer, I can appreciate that this is a good quality wine. If you tend towards the more Burgundian-style Oregon Pinots, which can often be quite pricey, then this is the wine for you. I give this wine 89 Points.

CostcoWineBlog.com Rating: 89 Points

Purchased in: Cumming, GA

ABV: 12.5%

Costco Item Number: 1124053

The post 2014 Seaside Cellars Pinot Noir New Zealand appeared first on CostcoWineBlog.com .

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Doug Pike is a member of the National Cartoonists Society and the author of THE FINAL PRESIDENT.

The post Costco Wine Cartoons by Doug Pike #48 appeared first on CostcoWineBlog.com .

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Alright, so I’ve had this bottle for a while. I meant to review it shortly after I first bought it, but alas- it was overlooked in the sea of Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs that I’ve got stacked on the fourth shelf of my refrigerator. Be on the lookout for a comparative review of those in the upcoming weeks. The newest release of Girard, the 2015 I believe, is currently available in select Costco warehouses.

I had to use a corkscrew to open this bottle, which as you may know is not the status quo for Sauvignon Blanc these days. Even higher-end producers such as Duck Horn have switched from cork to cap in an effort to both maintain bright and crisp flavors while also reducing the number of corked bottles that the winery will eventually have to account for. Check out our sister blog, Winemodo.com for my experience with purchasing a corked bottle of $50 wine, and tips on how to deal with that.

But anyways, back to the juice. The wine opens with a pleasantly fragrant aroma of lemon meringue pie and pear. On the palate, the acidity, so often allowed to skyrocket with this grape, is kept in check and balanced by a subtle sweetness on the midpalate. The finish is clean and smooth.

The back of the bottle explains that the wine is fermented in stainless steel and with no malolactic fermentation. The winery also writes that ripeness and fullness is achieved from picking the grapes later in the season. I like the end result of this: pronounced fruit aromas and flavors without the weight of oak or malo.

Wine Spectator gives this wine 89 points and the 2015 vintage 88 points. The reviewer, “MW” mentions chamomile in his 2014 review, which I didn’t get, and describes the 2015 much like I have in this review, with “notes of pear and white flowers… this smooth-bodied version ends with a pop of acidity.” I give this wine a solid 89 points.

CostcoWineBlog.com Rating: 89 Points

Purchased in Buford, GA

ABV: 13.9%

Costco Item Number: 461279 ($13.99)

The post 2014 Girard Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley appeared first on CostcoWineBlog.com .

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A little bird told me that this wine was coming to Costco before it ever even arrived. The wine appeared suddenly at a couple of stores and sold out almost immediately. Then the following week, a few more cases were distributed, and then this week, seven cases to the Costco down the street from where I work.

I thought I had missed my chance with this wine, but there it was. This “pocket wine” legend was staring me in the face with its abnormally heavy and embossed bottle. For $15.99, of course I had to try it. I knew nothing about it except that it was Italian, “hot,” and apparently not going to be re-ordered, indicated by the asterisk on the item sign.

When I Vivinoed this wine (yes, that’s a verb) it came up “Ca’ de’ Rocchi Vinum Italicum N3 Opera 2005.” This wine, however, is not a 2005. It is non-vintage but has “Founded in 2005” written below the name, which must have confused more than one person. I always tell people to pay attention to wine labels. There is lots that you can learn about what’s inside the bottle by reading what the label includes, and by also noting what it doesn’t.

This “Vino Rosso” is a blend of grapes that have been “personally selected by Gian Andrea Tinazzi,” according to the back label. There is also a map of Italy with the regions outlined. Three of those regions, Sicilia, Puglia, & Veneto are filled in. Perhaps this is where the grapes come from? The tech sheet for the wine does not specify.

The nose jumps out at me with ripe red fruits- I’m thinking warm climate grapes. The palate is medium-bodied and fairly simplistic with subtle tannins and a decent amount of residual sugar for an Italian wine. I immediately thought “fruit punch.” The finish is somewhat lingering but a little hot.

I prefer not to rate this wine because I don’t know what pretty little box to put it in. If you happen to come across this and are as entranced by the bottle as I was, or if you’ve already purchased it, let me know what you think in the comments below. I’d love to hear your opinion.

Purchased in Cumming, GA

Costco Item Number: 1145565

ABV: 15%

The post NV Tinazzi Opera Rosso appeared first on CostcoWineBlog.com .

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This is one of those $20-$25 Chardonnays that shows a nice jump up in quality from those in the $12-$15 range.  And in the case of Costco, you can of course find a nice price that is closer to the latter.  I found this bottle at my Costco for $15.99 but have seen it hit +$20 online, and close to $25 in some big box wine shops.

Nice aromatics, smells like sunshine, some lemongrass and peach with a touch of herbs; medium plus mouthfeel with a creamy texture that is there in form only, not overloaded with creamy butter flavor which turns me off.  So very nice in the mouth.  Lemongrass flavor continues through, combined with some apple, and pear; great finish that lasts.  This is a fun Chardonnay, and one that I would definitely buy again.

CostcoWineBlog.com Rating: 88 points

Costco item number: 29151

Purchased at Costco in: Atlanta, GA

Alc. 14.4%

The post 2014 Hess Collection Napa Valley Chardonnay appeared first on CostcoWineBlog.com .

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Researching this wine proved to be frustrating. This may be a Costco-exclusive wine, although I am only speculating. Domaine Albert Bichot is a fairly well-known Burgundy producer with widely available wines. Costco has carried the Bichot Domaine Long-Depaquit Chablis previously, and some stores probably still have it in stock.

This wine is 100% Chardonnay made from grapes that come from somewhere in Burgundy. That’s really all I can tell you about the wine that you can’t learn from reading the back label. I can tell you that I believe it has seen little oak, and that it was probably neutral. I also think that the winemaker blocked malo as there is little to no butter or cream on the palate.

The wine is light and crisp, driven by a backbone of acid and minerality, and reminiscent of a Chablis. The fruit is very subtle; orange blossom and lemon are more pronounced on the nose. You could probably get away with serving this to group of mixed Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc lovers. At $10.99 per bottle, the price is friendly and fair.

Vivino user reviews mention Costco a lot, and are more giving than mine will be. I think the wine is simple, imbalanced, and one-dimensional. I could mindlessly drink this any day, but I would likely move onto something else after the first half-glass. Considering my love for wine and tendency to give more credit than credit is due, I guess you could say that I’m just not that into it. I give this wine an 87.

CostcoWineBlog.com Rating: 87 Points

Purchased in Cumming, GA

Costco Item Number: 1090853

Alcohol: 12.5%

The post 2015 Albert Bichot Chardonnay Bourgogne Réserve de l’Orangerie appeared first on CostcoWineBlog.com .

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Having made a goal to explore new white wines this year, one area I’ve been avoiding is Sauvignon Blanc, which is a varietal I feel I got my fill of last summer.  However, when we’re talking French Sauvignon Blanc, especially from Sancerre which lies in the eastern part of the Loire Valley, Sauvignon Blanc takes on a whole new meaning.  This was a lovely wine we enjoyed with a group of friends on a hot summer day, and when we poured the final glass, everyone was hoping I had another bottle stashed, but alas, that wasn’t the case.

The wine started a little muted on the nose, hints of light fruit, I thought a little cantelope.  Light in the mouth, super tangy all the way through.  Crisp acidity and tart.  Flavors are predominantly lemon and grapefruit, and the wine is not overwhelming in any area.  This is kind of like your middle weight prize fighter, great in the ring, but toned, not burly.

Overall, the finish is where this one really stood out for me.  It’s long and lasting, and if you like a tangy, slightly sour zest lingering after a wine like this, than this one is for you.  Certainly among the better Sauvignon Blancs I’ve tasted recently (which again isn’t a lot but this is a very nice wine).  Price at my Costco was $18.99, and this is a bottle we will add to our recommended wine list.

CostcoWineBlog.com Rating: 89 points

Costco item number: 449334

Purchased at Costco in: Atlanta, GA

Alc. 12.5%

The post 2015 Patient Cottat Sancerre Anciennes Vignes appeared first on CostcoWineBlog.com .

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This is the first time I’ve seen this red blend from Columbia Valley come in under the Kirkland brand label, and the price was right at only $8.99.  A little note on the back of the bottle describes the wine and it’s signed by the winemakers, Jeremy Santo and Emily Haines.  I always love when you see some clues on Kirkland bottles as to the source where they may have originated.

In this case, a quick Google search leads you right to Milbrandt Vineyards, whose wines I’ve tasted in the past.  They make some excellent Syrah.  But being a larger, and well established operation, I had to assume this little red blend would be worth the money.

And it turns out that it is.  I didn’t find it to be an unbelievable buy but for under $10 the pickings are fairly slim (even at Costco), and if you want a big rich red, and enjoy Washington State fruit (as I do), then this turns into quite a bargain buy.

The varietal breakdown is 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot. It’s dark on the pour with aromatics of perfume, dried fruit, a little anise.  In the mouth, it’s juicy, mostly dark black fruit, rounded out by some cherry with some cinnamon notes on the back palate.  Finishes up rather quickly, but the wine is pleasant all around, especially considering the price.

All in all, not a bad buy for a good mid week sipper if you’re preparing a hearty meal or grilling out some red meat and want something to sip on without having to think about it too much.

CostcoWineBlog.com Rating: 87 points

Costco item number: 828289

Purchased at Costco in: Atlanta, GA (Kennesaw)

Alc. 14.9%

The post 2015 Kirkland Signature Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot appeared first on CostcoWineBlog.com .

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La Crema is a well-known producer of “cool-climate Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Gris” produced by artisan winemaking.  I was pleased with a recent flight of Pinot Noirs that I tasted through, and I can say the same for their 2015 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay.

I wrote “Yum!” on my tasting notes, which I don’t usually do because I’m not usually crazy about Chardonnay even though I do tend to have a weakness for appellation-specific and single vineyard varietal representations.  There are just too many over-oaked butter bombs out there with residual sugar that mimics that of an off-dry Riesling.  In an effort to avoid these wines, I tend to shy away from purchasing any wine with a label that reminds me of breakfast.

La Crema is not one of these, despite the name (which actually is supposed to mean “the best” and not “the cream”).  This wine is smooth with light oak influence and balanced acidity on account of cool-climate growing conditions followed by partial malolactic fermentation.  This gives the wine a buttery mouthfeel and flavor without it being overpowering or sweet.  The finish is clean and fresh.

Malolactic fermentation, or “malo” as some will say, is simply the process of malic acid (tart, like that in green apples) being converted to lactic acid (softer; the acid in yogurt) by bacteria.  This usually happens during or after alcoholic fermentation, and winemakers can manipulate the environment of the wine in order to allow it to proceed or block it.  When winemakers allow malo to proceed, or add bacteria in order to encourage it, the final product has a creamier “buttery” mouthfeel.  Wines where malo is blocked tend to have a more tart and crisp flavor and texture; think Riesling and Gewürztraminer.

According to La Crema’s website, “Fifteen percent of the lot was co-inoculated with the house strain of malolactic bacteria then used to top the remainder of the lot during post-primary fermentation. The lees were stirred 1-2 times per month and the wine aged for 9 months.”  I have written about lees before, which are often necessary for malo to proceed normally but are also used to impart a similar full-bodied texture as well as additional layers of flavors.

Science, right?

I like this wine because the fruit flavors are pronounced without the wine being sweet, and the oak and above-mentioned influences give the wine a creamy texture.  Wine Spectator gives the 2015 La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 87 points while Wine Enthusiast has not rated the current vintage but gave the 2014 90 points.  I give this wine 89 points.  You can find it in most Costco clubs hovering around the $18 mark.

CostcoWineBlog.com Rating:  89 Points

Purchased in Alpharetta, GA

ABV: 13.5%

Costco Item Number:  145000

The post 2015 La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay appeared first on CostcoWineBlog.com .

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I first saw this wine about a month ago in my hometown club.  The interesting label and name immediately caught my attention and so I decided to look up the ratings on my phone.  I was pleased to discover that it got a 91 from Wine Enthusiast and 4.0 user rating on Vivino. That was convincing enough evidence to sell me.  I did not buy the wine that day because the bin was missing a sign (price) and I didn’t have time to wait in line.

Fast forward to last week, when I dropped by a different club and noticed that the bin of wine was almost empty.  A person who was hand selling wine that day told me that it had sold out in other stores and was popular.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to buy the wine that day either, but I was finally able to acquire a bottle yesterday to try last night.  Here are my thoughts:

The nose is awesome- like that of Intrinsic or any other high-quality Columbia Valley cab.  In a blind tasting I may even mistake it for something from Lodi or Paso Robles.  The fruit tends to jump out at you with Cabernet from these areas.

On the palate, however, the fruit is lost. The juice is tight and dry, with a heavy oak influence that causes the underside of your upper lip to stick to your two front teeth.  Gripping tannins create a length that is somewhat satisfying but again lacking the fruit that I had hoped for; the fruit that the nose had promised.  Instead, the wine finishes on a bitter note.  After a few hours, I felt that the wine started to declined and take on a balsamic profile that turned me off altogether.

The $15.99 price that I paid for this wine was fair. I would not want to pay much more than that, however.  I was honestly expecting so much more from this wine, but the price should have been an indicator that the wine is good but not great (for my palate).  Wine Enthusiast says that the wine has “undeniable appeal,” which I can’t argue with.  Silver Palm, Joel Gott Cab, & Freakshow lovers will appreciate this wine.  I could flip a coin between the four and not be disappointed with the outcome.  I give this wine 88 Points.

CostcoWineBlog.com Rating: 88 Points

Purchased in: Buford, GA

ABV: 14.3%

Costco item number: 11767222

The post 2013 Inconceivable “After The Flood” Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley appeared first on CostcoWineBlog.com .

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