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How many times do you come across a decent Bordeaux for $7?   My answer is: “rarely, if not almost never”.   I had to use “almost” because of this 2010 Chateau Chantemerle. Costco’s buyers found a very decent merlot-based wine that quite nicely pairs with most foods.  You don’t want to drink this alone — it is an accompaniment wine.  

A combination of 65% merlot, 25% cab and 10% cab franc, this is a wine that you’d expect to drink in a French bistro with your meal.   It is both tannic and fruity with a dominant flavor of black currant.    There’s enough acidity to complement the food but with a smooth aftertaste.   I drank this wine over three days and found the second and third days superior to the first, so feel free to decant this wine or nurse it slowly over a few days.  Bon Appetit.
– Michael S

Costco item #:774452
Price:  $6.99
Rating: 88  (largely due to value)
Read More about 2010 Chateau Chantemerle Bordeaux

  This wine really changed a lot with air.  I was getting ready to write it up as one of my least favorite Kirkland offerings.  But after an hour or so in the glass it’s come around, albeit only a bit.  I’m a big Bordeaux fan, and frequently enjoy wines from the Medoc region, but most cost more than the $8.99 I paid for this bottle at Costco.  At that price, it’s hard to be too critical, but I wouldn’t rush to the store to stock up on this one.

I reread my comments on the 2009 vintage of this wine, and feel very much the same for this year’s wine.  Overall, the wine is just not that interesting and rather one dimensional. Nose is almost non-existent; in the mouth the wine opens up with a bit of dark fruit, blackberry, and black licorice flavors, leading to a dry and slightly spicy finish that wraps up quickly.

If you’re a Bordeaux fan like me and are looking to try an inexpensive bottle for fun, go for it.  Otherwise, I’d take my money and look for anything from Spain for $9. Rating: 85 Points
Purchased at Costco in: Atlanta, GA
Costco item number: 666695

Read More about 2011 Kirkland Signature Medoc Bordeaux

Obviously the bottle is the first thing you notice here, and I have to give them marks for creativity.  I usually avoid cute gimmicks like this at all costs, but this one happened to be a Chateauneuf-du-Pape and at $23.99 at Costco I figured it would be fun to roll the dice.

The wine is light ruby garnet in color, floral nose , some violet, candy; medium plus in body. Flavors are dried plum, little vegetal, green pepper, scents of leather with spice and pepper, both getting strong into the close. A little dry and chalky on the spicy finish.  Needed some air to get going, but turned into a decent wine in the end. 

As a fan of Chateauneuf-du-Papes, I have to say I didn’t get that signature Chateauneuf flavor on this one.  Sometimes that happens in sub $25 Chateauneuf wines.  They end up tasting more like a standard Cotes du Rhone, which isn’t at all bad, just not what I was hoping for.   Overall, have fun with the packaging, but don’t get too pumped for the wine inside. Rating: 85 Points

Costco item number: 753984

Read More about NV La Fiole du Pape Chateauneuf-du-pape

Liked this one. Beautiful nose of sweet dark fruits and a bit of spice, new world merlot type. Rich fruit on the palate, strawberry, dark chocolate, licorice, little sour cherry. Excellent mouth feel, really like the texture and feels extremely polished and well made.

Good finish, firm and silky tannins, this thing will have some good years ahead – some alcohol lingering. I have to note that I picked up a few of these bottles as Costco was selling them for $18. At that price point, this is an insanely good value.
90-91 Points

— TJ Cohen

Read More about 2010 Chateau Teyssier St. Emilion Grand Cru


( would like to introduce its newest contributor, Michael S.)

What I look for from a value-priced Bordeaux is a smooth, balanced wine that makes steak sing, chicken celebrate, pork praise and tomato sauces shout “oh that’s SO good”!   Last year, I tried the 2009 Chateau Petit-Freylon Cuvee Michael and was underwhelmed.  So when I paired the 2010 Chateau Petit-Freylon Cuvee Sarah (presumably, she’s related to Michael) with a roasted tri-tip, the food gave me a standing ovation.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t for my cooking as much as this surprisingly accommodating Bordeaux with the unassuming price. Costco asks $7.99 for this easy drinking, well-structured Cab-based blend but the 25% Merlot gives the wines some subtlety that allows it to play nicely with a wide variety of foods.   It combines a little terroir with a good mouth feel, black cherry overtones and a gentle oak finish resulting in a Goldilocks “not-too-dry-not-too-fruity” harmony. It is just a nice integration of Bordeaux’s best characteristics.  

Did I mention that it is $7.99?  I’ve had more than my fill of $19.99 French blends that are far less food friendly than this sub-$10 Bordeaux. I don’t know Sarah but now I want to meet her, give her a hug and offer thanks for making good French table wine affordable.
— Michael S


Rating:  87 points

Costco item number:  680633

Read More about 2010 Chateau Petit-Freylon Cuvee Sarah

I never really considered buying wine at Costco to go along with the countless other items I’d eventually find in my shopping cart as I checked out.  As I began to drink more wine, I ventured into the wine section and found myself ogling the different wines they had in their distinctive wood boxes and stacked by the palate aisle by aisle.

In the past I was pretty much a Napa Cab guy, but the Spanish Tempranillo I bought opened me up to a wonderful world of new wines.

Since I live in Southern California, there are at least 8-10 Costco’s within an hour of where I work and live.  It’s amazing how you can walk into one Costco and find a completely different selection of wines than at a Costco 15 minutes away.  That being said, I do enjoy visiting the various Costco’s to see what they happen to have on display.

I noticed this wine about a month ago.  At $19.99, it checked the box of what I was willing to spend on a wine for this week, not to mention I was specifically looking for French wine.  As I normally do, I opened the bottle and poured a splash to taste as I decanted the rest.  The color was a very deep purple and the nose reminded me of a romantic, floral, light fruited wine that I was going to enjoy drinking.

At first taste, the wine was a little sweeter that I thought it would be with moderate acidity and tannins.  Mid palate you were greeted with flavors of plum and leather with a semi long finish.  After decanting it for about an hour, the sweetness subsided and plum flavors really took over.  I thought the wine would be a little out of balance, but after more time in the decanter it came together much better.  The wine doesn’t quite have the flavor of ripe fruit if that’s something you’re considering.

All in all, it’s a great wine for the price if you enjoy (or want to try) French wine that’s a little sweet, dark fruited with predominantly plum flavors and isn’t overly acidic or tannic (but not soft).  Rarely does a winery’s description describe a wine so well, so if you happen to find this one in your local Costco, feel free to give it a ride.

Overall 89 points for flavor and value.
— Adam L

Read More about 2011 Chateau Lilian Ladouys Saint Estephe

I enjoyed this one with a little skirt steak on the grill and it was a superb combo.  I love these Cru Bourgeois Bordeaux and particularly the ones from the awesome 2010 vintage.  This bottle at Costco was $16.99 (which I think it a very competitive price after a quick online search), and I felt it was about mid-pack given the aforementioned specs.

It’s predominantly Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with small parts of Petit Verdot and Cabernet France.  On the first pour the nose just jumped out of the glass with loads of peppery spice, but after a few hours the wine settled a bit.  In the mouth this one is medium in body and stuffed with fruit flavor; lots of dark fruit, plum, sticky and dry which made it awesome with steak.  This is definitely a food wine.

I’m a fan at this price point.  It’s a solid wine for the money; just not anything too over the top.  About what I expected. Rating: 89 Points

Costco item number: 724744

Read More about 2010 Chateau d’Aurilhac Haut Medoc Bordeaux

I am helping a few friends on some of wine projects, and they will be launching some very exciting stuff soon.  This is a short piece they asked me to write on tips for reading a French wine label, and I figured I’d share it with everyone here as well.  Enjoy.
– Andrew, Editor


Reading a French wine label is a little different than reading one from the US.  The labels are a bit more complex, but with a little practice and geographic research, you’ll soon be listing your favorite appellations in no time.


There are four key aspects to a French wine label that you will want to note: the vintage, the appellation, the classification and the chateau (or winemaker).

The vintage is pretty easy to decipher but it is vitally important.  It tells you the year the grapes were harvested in, and depending on the weather for each year, this can cause prices to swell or cave in.  Don’t be surprised if bottles from stellar years are much more expensive than bottles from years with bad conditions.

The appellation is a huge factor on the label because it ultimately tells you what grapes were used in producing the wine.  France (and many other European countries) segment their wines by appellation rather than saying simply Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. 

This is because of long standing rules in those countries about which grapes can grow where.  To understand what you are buying requires a bit of geographic knowledge on behalf of the purchaser.  For instance, a Bordeaux from St Emilion (right bank) is going to be a Merlot based red blend, compared to a Margaux (left bank) that is going to be Cabernet Sauvignon based. The more you experiment and research these different appellations within France, the more you will know about the wine inside. 


The classification of the wine means a few different things throughout France.  In some areas, such as Burgundy, you will have Grand Cru wines which typically mean the wine is from the “highest” quality single vineyard, while Premier Cru means a “high” quality single vineyard, and then “Village” wines which may come from multiple vineyards. In Bordeaux you have the Classifications of 1855 that separate vineyards out into “growths.”  The “First Growth” wines are some of the most prized in the world.


The Chateau (or winemaker) is another important aspect.  As you embark on your wine journey, you will begin to encounter and recognize winemakers who make excellent wines, or (perhaps more importantly) wines that you enjoy.  Often times a second bottle (or second label, meaning the lesser wine) from a top winemaker is a better quality than a grand cru from a lesser known winemaker.

Note: If you enjoyed these quick tips, take a look at my French wine book, Decoding French Wine: A Beginner’s Guide to Enjoying the Fruits of the French Terroir.  It’s available in Kindle and paperback formats.  Just click on the cover below.

Read More about How to Read a French Wine Label

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

It’s a real treat every year when these Kirkland Chateauneufs hit the shelves.  You just can’t get into this region for the price that Costco offers ($20) and the wine this year is superb as always.

This is a Rhone blend consisting of 58% Grenache, 23% Syrah, 13% Counoise-Vaccarese, 4% Cinsault and 2% Muscardin-Mourvedre.  Don’t let a few of the less familiar grapes deter you.  This is a solid Rhone red at an unbeatable price.  Here’s my review of the 2010 (which was a great year), and this year stacks up about the same.  An easy Silver Rated wine for the site.

Perfect dark fruit and berry flavor, spice that hits your nose as you take each drink, young juicy mouthfeel that would only get better with a little more age, and a finish that’s near perfection.  This one could run for a while in the bottle and it might be kind of a fun experiment to drink it again in 2-3 years.  If it’s still around I might try to snag some for the cellar. 

Great wine.  A red wine lover’s dream at this price.  Must buy. Rating: 92 Points (a point up from last year)
*Silver Rated*

Costco item number: 777662

Read More about 2011 Kirkland Signature Chateauneuf-du-pape

I just realized this Rhone bottle from Kirkland was a Villages, which is even better.  At $6.99 this is the steal of all steals for readers who enjoy their Rhone reds.

It’s signature Rhone all around, with the depth and richness I would expect from a bottle that cost at least twice as much.  As regular readers know, I love these wines, and truly believe they offer some of the best bang for the buck in the entire world of wine.  Here’s a perfect entry point for any doubters.

This wine is comprised of the classic Rhone varietals, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre, and they come together beautifully.   Nose is spicy, earthy, and then just massive fruit on the palate.  Jammy dark fruit, blackberry, blueberry, a touch of chocolate, maybe some red licorice; which leads into the clean, slightly spicy finish.  Here’s your everyday red wine.  Stock up.  It’s a bargain at this price.  And a good BBQ wine for the summer. Rating: 89 Points
*Value Pick*
*Kirkland Wine*

Costco item number: 887774

Read More about 2011 Kirkland Signature Cotes du Rhone Villages

I really enjoyed this one.  The minute you smell this wine you can tell it’s a winner.  At $23.99 it’s a good buy for right bank Bordeaux (Merlot based blend) fans, of which I seem to be becoming more and more of myself.  And 2010 was a blockbuster year in Bordeaux.

Again, the nose is what gets me.  It immediately reminds you of a high end Cab or Merlot, even one from CA.  Floral, graphite, finesse and on the palate you get some excellent dark fruit, black cherry, black licorice and pepper; tannins are still a tad tight leaning me to think this one would get better in the years to come.  Strong, lingering finish.  I had intended to grill a steak with this wine but didn’t get properly prepped and I missed out.

Fun food wine, nice execution all around and a good price from Costco on a big Bordeaux year.  Highly recommend. Rating: 91 Points

Costco item number: 695716

Read More about 2010 Chateau Boutisse Saint-Emilion Bordeaux

The lowest end wine from a world class estate, I played with this one a while before determining that it was ok for its $26.99 price tag at Costco. This wine is a huge tease toward their higher end wines.  You can taste something great in the wine, but it’s a little held back.  Still a decent buy though.

Nose smells like a top notch Bordeaux, a little spice, cedar and earth.  On the palate the wine is perfect; young and juicy.  Tannins are softer than I expected for something so young.  The flavor could have been a bit stronger and the finish as well.  It’s smooth and clean, but doesn’t leave enough lingering to have the type of impact you typcially get from Pauillacs.

Still a fair price tag on a good wine.  You don’t find many Pauillac Bordeaux for this low of price, so here’s an easy way in. Rating: 87 Points

Costco item number: 564623

Read More about 2010 La Fleur de Haut-Bages Liberal Pauillac Bordeaux

You could do a lot worst for $9. I thought this one was just fine for what it is, a low priced Bordeaux Superieur, with a few years in the bottle.  It’s a decent everyday drinker with a meal.  Nothing more.

Ripe fruit on the nose; flavors are pretty mellow, a bit of cherry, red fruit; finished up with a little leather, perfume, dry and quick.  This is a decent wine if you want to mindlessly sip and eat a hamburger off the grill.  If you start to think about it too much, you might not like it.  But still we’re only talking $9. Rating: 85 Points

Costco item number: 722031

Read More about 2009 Chateau La Croix de Roche Bordeaux Superieur