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  As the nights get colder in Southern California, sitting down with a bottle of red wine on a Saturday evening sounds better and better.  I’ve had this Kirkland Napa County Cabernet on hand for about two weeks and decided tonight was the night to take it out for a spin.

As I poured what would be my first taste, the wine color was deep purple and it’s nose exhibited traditional black fruited currant flavors.  Unfortunately, my first sip was disappointing.  Maybe I expected more because the Kirkland brand has delivered some great value wines, but this one clearly needed some time to open up and figure out how it wanted to present itself.  To those that pop and pour, beware.  If you judge it right out of the bottle you will be disappointed.  

For those just getting into red wine, that brings up an important point.  After being in a bottle a while, most wines need time to open up and let being exposed to air do it’s thing.  Couldn’t be truer in the case of this wine.  I decided to decant the bottle and forget about it a couple hours.

Coming back to the wine and starting over gave it a second chance to impress.  This wine has some good qualities, but they seem out of order.  There’s a quick rush of black fruit which isn’t as ripe as I hoped and held it back.  Before I could think more about the fruit, I was greeted with traces of oak and chocolate, soon to be followed by a surprising tasty dusty cocoa flavor that lingered momentarily (which happened to be my favorite part).

This wine sells for $12.99 and I’ve seen it at a few Costcos.  Give it a good amount of time and it will not disappoint in the end considering you don’t have high expectations.
— Adam L

Rating 86 Points

Read More about 2011 Kirkland Signature Napa County Cabernet Sauvignon

  This is a blended red from different California vineyards, hence the 815 label, and was $13.99 at my Costco.  A quick online search will show this wine for a dollar or two cheaper at various outlets, so the Costco price seems decent overall.  As for the wine, it is a subtle Cab, blended very well to create an easy drinking bold red.  The vineyards include regions such as Sonoma, Paso, Lodi and Lake County, all great areas, and each one brings a little something different to the wine. 

The nose is young, floral with hints of cinnamon; flavors of fresh cherry, blueberry, more cinnamon; the flavors come as kind of a quick pop and the wine settles into a slow smooth, dusty finish.  2011 wasn’t the best year for California, and I was told by winemakers on a recent trip to Napa to be picky about what to buy; but this wine seems to come together.  It’s a nice food wine, and an ok buy for CA Cabs overall. Rating: 86 Points

Costco item number: 236764

Read More about 2011 Joel Gott Blend No. 815 Cabernet Sauvignon

Here’s a Costco staple that I haven’t reviewed in some time.  This bottle, from winemaster Tuck Beckstoffer who rarely disappoints, is only $19.79, and it’s a solid California Cabernet in the always popular under $20 offerings.

Nose was tight at first, a little floral and pepper to note.  On the palate the fruit is just fantastic; ripe and pure blueberry, blackberry, cedar, a touch of green pepper.  I wanted to learn a bit more about the fruit and found the following line from the 75 Wine Company website: “…a blend from our Lake County vineyards, Mendocino fruit and Valley floor fruit from our beloved Napa Valley.”  Beckstoffer seems to own grapes everywhere and can really pick and choose how to make his wines to deliver great quality for the dollar.

Finish brings a touch of pepper, a little dry and very smooth.

This is a good buy and a solid California wine for the money.  It also seems to be pretty widely available at a lot of Costco stores so I hope you can find it. Rating: 90 Points

Costco item number: 241276

Read More about 2011 Est 75 Cabernet Sauvignon

This is an awesome Washington State Cab I found for $16.79 at my Costco.  I would have guessed its price to be almost double this, and I wouldn’t have been disappointed if I had paid it.

Nose is fresh, floral and earthy;  in the mouth, the first thing you notice is the beautiful tannic structure.  This wine feels like it’s about 5 years older than it is since the tannins are so subtle; love this mouthfeel.  Fruit is dark berry, tobacco, a little black licorice and pepper spice, but young and fresh.  Finish is amazing for something in this price range.  Long, touch of spice, sticky.

I’m really impressed.  This one hit me right across the board.  I’m going to add it to our Bronze Rated wine list, and highly recommend you try it.  I’m going to buy a couple more to keep on hand.  These are the kind of wines I like to try a year or two later and see how they’ve changed. Rating: 91 Points
*Bronze Rated*

Costco item number: 345392

Read More about 2011 Chateau Smith Cabernet Sauvignon

I’ve been working diligently on the latest version of my French Wine Book, “Decoding French Wine: A Beginner’s Guide to Enjoying the Fruits of the French Terroir,” and I’m happy to say that this new second edition is live today on

The Kindle version is only $3.99 and it includes information on major French wine regions including Bordeaux, Loire, Burgundy, Alsace, Rhone, Languedoc-Roussillon and Champagne.  This book is short and conscise, written to help the beginner wine drinker become more familiar with French wines that may seem overly complicated and complex.

I wanted to really make this simple to digest, and to help turn more people on to these amazing wines.  If you’ve followed this site for a while, you know I have a tendency to review many of the French wines, particularly the 2010 Bordeaux because they are an amazing vintage. But I also look at many other French wines and regions, because the value is typically so great, especially at Costco. So here’s a chance to boost your knowledge and ultimately, your enjoyment, of these awesome wines.

Download a free sample chapter here.

Thanks for supporting this site.

Andrew, Editor

Read More about French Wine Book Volume 2 Now Available

A nice mountain Cabernet that I found for $33.99 at my Costco.  This wine took a while to open up.  It was super closed up at first and I was a little worried.  But as an hour or so past, it started to show its true colors and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

It’s blended with a few other varietals so the final make up is 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, & 2% Petite Verdot. Quality Napa nose, dark as could be in the glass, the wine definitely ramps up to a great finish.  Flavor is dark fruit, blueberry, black currant, black licorice and black berry.  Definitely a little stickiness to the finish which is great.  Dusty and dry on the close too, which demands a red meat dish.

A good wine at a fair price.  I’m a fan of the mountain wines so will gravitate toward them a bit more.  If you’re looking for more of the juicy Napa Cabs you might want to stick closer in the valley. Rating: 90 Points

Costco item number: 123399

Read More about 2010 Terra Valentine Spring Mountain Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

“Had to try this one to see what they can do with Oakville cab at this price…and the result is pretty good. One of the better Kirkland wines I have tasted (Their Chtf. Du pape is good as well).

Nose hits you right away with dark cabernet fruit, what I expect from Oakville. Surprisingly maintains some distinct characteristics of leather, black currant, raisin, blackberry, and vanilla oaky finish – much of what you can find in more expense big name wines from Oakville…Some dusty mild tannins suggest this has some potential for smoothing out a little bit with time. Relatively thick coat finish feels good, but a little bitterness and heat. Falls a tad short overall in terms of complexity (somewhat one-dimensional), but it is a big dark fruit driven wine that could fool many in a blind tasting. Better than expected, and overall I would recommend this one – especially for under $20.

*Give it some time to breath….big improvements”
— Rating: 90 Points

— TJ Cohen



Read More about 2010 Kirkland Signature Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville

A very enjoyable expression of Cabernet from Washington’s Columbia Valley, and really a great wine for Costco’s $19.99 price tag.

This is a big red, full bodied and just causes you think “wow” instantly.  Predominantly dark fruit, some cherry flavor with a little leather, tobacco and herb.  The finish adds spicy notes, and it’s elegant mouthfeel just makes it a joy to drink, even without food which it would complement to no end.

Got even better with some air.  A nice all around Cab from the Northwest (and I love my Northwest wines). Rating: 90 Points

Costco item number: 241279

Read More about 2009 Novelty Hill Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Not bad at all for a Sonoma Cab that was only $11.99 at my Costco.

Nose kicks off some cherry and vanilla scents, maybe a little mint even; then on the palate, flavors of plum, ripe cherry and red berry. The wine does a nice job of hanging around on the finish, which got even better as the wine had some time to breathe. 

All around a solid buy.  I was a little surprised since you just don’t find a lot of these inexpensive California Cabs to be quite this good.  I recommend giving this one a shot. Rating: 88 Points

Costco item number: 42944

Read More about 2010 Rodney Strong Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon

I can’t think of the last time I truly enjoyed a bottle for under $7, so this one at Costco for $6.59 may be the bargain of the year. This is a nice wine for the money.

Signature Argentina in its makeup, the wine instantly reminded me of some Patagonia Cabs I’ve tried recently.  Fresh and ripe, this wine feels surprisingly good in the mouth; more on the medium body side; flavors of dark berry, blackberry, black cherry and tobacco. Really enjoyable on the palatte.  Finish is pretty quick and dry.

As I said already, this could be the bargain wine of the year.  Kind of like the Etim from 2006, one of the best bargains I’ve found at Costco.  So scoop a few of these up and enjoy. Rating: 87 Points

Costco item number: 690794

Read More about 2011 Santa Julia Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza

Once a year we assemble the Costco wines we rated the highest over the past 12 months. From glancing through the list, I think it’s safe to say that we found a lot of great wines at some fantastic prices. Our series in September on high end Costco wines provides quite a few placements on this list, but that’s not to say there weren’t some big bargains as well. 

As always, it’s going to be hard to find many of these wines since Costco moves their inventory so quickly (but I’ve seen at least 3-4 of these still available at Costco stores near me).  So keep an eye out.  These are all winners.  Click on the label to read our review of each wine. 

Thanks for another fun year. 
— Editor

91 Points

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 92 Points

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91 Points

Read More about’s Highest Rated Wines of 2012

A decent Napa Cab for the $12.99 price point at Costco. Since I’ve always gone kind of middle of the road on these Kirkland Napa Cabs, I had a few other people try it, and they all agreed it was a nice wine for the money, but nothing special.

I gave the 2009 vintage of this wine 86 points and will do the same this year.  What you have is a nice Cab (although I’d guess there’s a touch of something else in here, likely Merlot), that starts fresh and ripe on the nose, it’s medium to full in body with tight tannins, a little cocoa on top of the dark fruit flavors, and some spice on the rather quick finish.

Not a bad wine by any stretch, and ok at this price point.  See what you think and let me know on our Facebook page. Rating: 86 Points

Costco item number: 929290

Read More about 2010 Kirkland Signature Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Wine Spectator just released their top 100 wines for 2012.  Here’s a PDF of the list.

A reader of our website suggested we try to list which of the wines from the list were available at Costco. I thought it was a fantastic idea.  But given the different selection of wines in Costco stores around the country, I thought it would be best to ask for help from all of our readers.

If you see any of the wines on the list, please tell everyone what you found and where on the Costco Wine Blog Facebook page.  Also, please list price, and of course any tasting notes if you’ve already opened the wine.

I’ll start by listing a few of the wines from the list that I’ve seen at Costco stores in Atlanta in the last few months (in some cases different vintages).

#51 Bodega Norton Malbec Mendoza Reserva 2010 (my review of the 2008 vintage)

#58 Perrin & Fils Vinsobres Les Cornuds 2010 (my review of the 2007 vintage)

#92 Altamura Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2009 (my review of this wine.  Scored it a point ahead of WS)



So keep an eye out next time you hit your local Costco, and please report back anything you find.  I plan on hitting a few more stores to see what I can find. 

— Editor

Read More about Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2012 at Costco

Rockaway is a lovely wine from Rodney Strong. This bottle marks the end of our month long series reviewing some of the higher end Costco wines, and it’s a nice note to go out on. I usually prefer my $70-$100 Cabs to come from Napa when I have a choice, but this bottle turned a corner for me.  It’s delicious, marked by an awesome finish and reaffirms the strength and boldness of Alexander Valley Cabs.

The wine starts pleasant on the nose, lots of pepper and spice; delicate in the mouth with a flavor punch that starts soft and then hits pretty big (like bass fishing, first thing that came to mind because I’ve been fishing a lot lately); definitely a good spice, nutmeg component on the palate with dark fruit, some plum.  But what’s special about this wine is the finish.  I love it.  Big, deep, lasting, just won’t go away.  Really a lot of fun.

This one opened my eyes to what Sonoma offers above $50.  This bottle was $64.99 at my Costco and worth every penny.  Enjoy with your favorite red meat or hearty dish. Rating: 93 Points

Read More about 2007 Rockaway Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon