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Costco Wine Cartoons by Doug Pike #9

Doug Pike is a member of the National Cartoonists Society and the author of Gone With The Wine and Dining Out -- Way Out!
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2012 Yaso Toro Tempranillo

   I obviously had to buy this one.  93 point rated from Parker and only $10 at Costco.  Plus I'm a huge fan of Toro wines since they generally deliver ridiculous value for the money.  And this one follows suit, although I can't go as high as 93 points...

Medium to semi-full dark on the pour, not super thick in appearance, but the flavor is all there.  The nose is really pleasant; grassy with a little mint and clove, a bit different which is refreshing.  Body is medium to full, and flavors are packaged perfectly - a bit of boisterous blueberry, red licorice, and ripe cherry that comes through more as the wine gets some air. Finishes strong, lasting, sticks to the mouth.  A great food wine.

This is a real treat for $10.  And I'm excited because I found quite a few reasonably priced Spanish bottles hitting my Costco on my last visit.  More on those to come but this wine is great way to get started in this region. Rating: 89 Points
Costco item number: 832106
Purchased at Costco in: Atlanta, GA
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2012 Cave de Lugny Macon-Lugny Les Charmes White Burgundy

   You don't find many white burgundies under $12 and most of them are not as good as this one.  Priced at $11.99 at Costco, this is a thoroughly enjoyable expression of Chardonnay that I imagine most white wine fans will enjoy.

Bright and vibrant on the nose, this wine really lets the fruit shine through without all the oak.  Flavors of pear, melon, apple dominate into a wine that is light and joyful in the mouth and closes just fine.  It's not an overly complex wine at all.  Just a simple summer pleaser, and one that Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc fans will both find something to like. Rating: 87 Points
Costco item number: 117722
Purchased at Costco in: Atlanta, GA
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2007 Attilio Ghisolfi Bussia Barolo

  This is what Barolo is all about.  It doesn't come cheap but then few things of this quality do.  This bottle was $59.99 at Costco and it truly overdelivered in terms of what I expected from a nice Barolo.

As many readers know we are working on a book about Italian wine (coming out late spring/summer hopefully) and part of the job is sampling bottles from every region of the great Italian landscape.  This has been one of my favorites so far.

It's an '07 and it's drinking beautifully right now, hints of a little age in these grapes that are meant for the long haul.  The wine is big and bold in flavor, lots of red cherry fruit alongside perfect tobacco, spice and earth floor.  Then mid-palate you feel the soft silky tannins, just perfect, into a finish that's pure Italian - dry and lasting.

Pair this with any big hearty red meat dominated meal and you have a winner.  Or like the two authors of the forthcoming book, you can enjoy it on its own, while writing about the awesome wines of the Piedmont region. Rating: 93-94 Points
*Gold Rated*
Purchased at Costco in: Atlanta, GA
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Wine Tip: How to Easily Remove Wine Labels from Wine Bottles

The finished product

   We've all had those awesome bottles of wine that we always want to remember. Maybe it was a special occasion, or simply just a rock start bottle you enjoyed. If you have room (and an approving spouse) perhaps you keep the entire bottle.  But I've always preferred to keep just the label and it's fun to go back and flip through them all like a stack of baseball cards and think about where you were when you enjoyed the wine.  Sometimes I will write notes on the back to offer even more detail. 

But the hardest part is getting a good clean lift of the label without tearing it.  I've tried many methods, and many label lift products, and I finally think I have it down to about a 90% success rate.  Here's how to do it...
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2012 Kirkland Signature Oakville Merlot


Merlots are a tricky wine, in general.   They often lack the depth of the cabs and the spiciness of the syrahs.   Too many winemakers have transformed this versatile grape into a soft and flabby wine when it can and should be rich, elegant and a great accompaniment to good food.    Sure, it may not grab your taste buds like some cabs, but it can bring out the flavors of beef or lamb like the finest sea salt or home-grown herbs.   

Here in the U.S., Columbia Crest and Milbrandt have been producing some very decent value merlot.  I’ve not found too many Napa-grown merlot value wines.  Kirkland Signature has offered merlots in the past, but they never really impressed…..until now.   Kirkland just introduced its Signature Series Oakville Merlot (2012), and they must have gotten their hands on some excellent Napa juice, because it is knock-down delicious.   Over three-days this lovely wine produced some very pleasing, aromatic, oaky vanilla plum flavors with a full mouthfeel, and medium-long with a taste of cocoa.   Like any good merlot, it went down smooth. 
It was at its best on the second day, but came out of the bottle with little, or no, bite.   It takes the L out of flab – this is a fab wine.   

I wish they’d knocked a few bucks off the price to compete with the two Washington merlots, but I suspect they are charging for the Napa name.  Try it out; you might find it is worth stocking up upon before it disappears off the shelves. 

Rating:  90  (for value)

Price: $14.99

Costco Item #: 789180

San Diego, California

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2012 Casaleiro Reserva Vinho Regional Tejo Portugal

   Holy smokes, this wine is a steal for only $7 at Costco.  If you are not drinking wines from Portugal and Spain right now, you need to hop a country or two from where you might be tasting and experience the insane value from these regions right now.

Maybe the varietal makeup is a little different and steers some people away.  This wine is 40% Touriga-Nacional, 30% Castelao, and 30% Trincadeira.  I wish I could act like I know a lot about these grapes, but I don't.  All I can tell you is that I've had them before in other Portuguese wines, and I liked them then as much as I do now.  I think we will have a future book about wines from Portugal.  Keep an eye out.

This wine is fairly young as a 2012 but is drinking very nice.  Nose of ripe fruit and red berry, which continues onto the palate, opening up with more strawberry, cherry and red licorice (more Nibs actually), the ripe fruit is balanced with nice acidity, and a finish that is dry and lasting.  This is a true stand out not only for $7 but maybe under $20.   This wine will be added to our Value Picks, and I think we will see it again on a future list of ours down the line. Rating: 89 Points
Purchased at Costco in: Atlanta, GA
Costco item number: 810240
*Value Pick* 
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La Cour Des Papes Chateauneuf-du-pape

   This was a tough wine for me to review.  It was not what I was hoping for.  At first I chalked it up to a bad bottle, but all indications looked like I should have been smooth sailing.  I'm a huge Chateauneuf fan (and a collector too), yet found this bottle to be a C grade or below of the region.  At $26.99 I was hoping for a bargain gem, but found a wine that was hardly recognizable as the Chateauneufs I love so much. 

I'd love to try another bottle to see if mine was off, but at $27, I'm going to have to move on.  Maybe other readers can chime in with their experiences and let me know if I am the odd one out on this wine. Rating: No Rating
Purchased at Costco in: Atlanta, GA
Costco item number: 834885
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2010 Columbia Crest H3 Chardonnay


Reviewed by Michael S

Combine a very good value wine at Costco with a $2.00 discount and you’ve got one tasty treat.   First, my bias disclaimer:   I’ve been very impressed with Columbia Crest’s H3 line of wines over the years.   They’ve offered one of my favorite Merlots and their Cabernet Sauvs have been quite nice.  

Costco is now offering the 2010 H3 Chardonnay for less than $9 during a time-limited $2.00 sale so I had to try it out.   The two-day tasting verdict:  this is one helluva a rich California-style chardonnay despite its Washington origin.   It sports apples, peaches, minerals and lots of butter without the oak-overload that plagues some California chards.  It is a nicely balanced wine with just the right amount of fruit and acid graced by a lovely mouthfeel and long finish.  I sampled it over two days, with the second day shared among friends.   It was the hands-down favorite of everyone who tried it.   It would be a wonderful accompaniment to paired with poultry, vegetables and some mild-tasting fish.  

During this sale, it may be worth buying a case or two of this chardonnay….but it remains a great value even without the sale price. 


Rating:  92  (for value)

Price: $8.80

Costco Item #: 283743

San Diego, California

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Costco Wine Cartoons by Doug Pike #8

Doug Pike is a member of the National Cartoonists Society and the author of Gone With The Wine and Dining Out -- Way Out!

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