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2014 Costco Wine Thanksgiving Picks

It’s always difficult to find the perfect Thanksgiving wine that everyone will unanimously agree pairs perfect with the hodge podge of food and flavors that are typically served on Thanksgiving tables around the country.  I tend to opt for a variety of different wines, and enjoy tasting them all at the same time with the …

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New Wine Book Published: Decoding Italian Wine

Today we finally published the Italian wine book we’ve been working on for the past year. It is called “Decoding Italian Wine: A Beginner’s Guide to Enjoying the Grapes, Regions, Practices and Culture of the ‘Land of Wine.’”  This has been a fun project, and really helped me gain a deeper understanding of Italian wine …

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2010 Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva

If you walk into Costco and have $20 to spend on wine you’d be served quite nicely buying a bottle of this Chianti.  This is a splendid Italian offering that was $18 at my Costco.  It’s just an elegant wine, perfect in so many ways, that is an incredible find in this price range.  I’m …

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2010 Basilica Cafaggio Chianti Classico

    Here’s a $10 winner at Costco.  What a beautiful Chianti for the money.  It’s a Chianti Classico, DOCG, single vineyard…everything you want to see on the label. Why it’s only $10 is beyond me.

I could tell on the pour and after a quick sniff this was going to be an enjoyable wine.  The wine looks bright and lively in the glass, not too dark, and it is relatively medium to light in body.  Nothing overbearing.  Nice fruit, red cherry, with a little tart to it, some cranberry perhaps, hints of strawberry and plum.  Sticky finish.  Pretty smooth character on this wine.

For only $10 this is your go to mid-week meal wine.  It’s light and easy, perfect for almost anything.  I’m going to add this bottle to our Value Picks list.  Enjoy this one. Rating: 89 Points
*Value Pick*
Purchased at Costco in: Atlanta, GA
Costco item number: 819237

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2008 Orestiadi Ludovico Rosso Sicilia

   I was really excited to find this bottle at Costco.  What an interesting wine and perfect for me as I continue to work on my book about Italian wine.  Price at Costco was $19.99.

This is a Sicilian wine with the IGT designation.  The wine is comprised of 90% Nero d’Avola (the red grape of Sicily) and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.  I have enjoyed many bottles of Nero d’Avola and I think they are one of the best buys for Italian wines around $15-$20 but I had never had a blend like this. 

Nero d’Avola typically exudes a nice herbal aroma and this wine showed much of that.  Lots of berry fruit on the nose, white pepper, spice and a little floral.  On the palate this wine is full bodied with a soft tannic structure and a good bit of acidity.  More ripe berry flavors, a lot going on, definitely tobacco and some black licorice; finish is a spicy, dry and sticky.

This is an excellent wine, and a good buy at Costco.  Pair this with a nice Italian dish with spice, red sauce and/or red meat.  I enjoyed it with basic spaghetti (cooking for the kids) and it was superb. Rating: 89 Points
Purchased at Costco in: Atlanta, GA
Costco item number: 825665

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2008 Vecchia Cantinia Leone D’Oro Vino Nobile di Montepulciano


(This review is a guest post from Ryan at


I decided to go old school and sample a glass of this wine while viewing Roberto Rosselini’s 1959 drama Il Generale della Rovere, given the fact that both wine and film have regal-sounding names. But while the film lived up to the hype, the wine fell disappointingly short.

The nose was inviting, with hints of cherry. But the first mouthful was kind of blah, not fruity, slightly meaty but rather nondescript for a sangiovese. The aftertaste was suitably dry and chewy but didn’t reveal any interesting flavors.

I decided to try pairing the wine, priced at $17.49 at Costco, with some fusili with sausage to see if it fared any better. It held up nicely against the tomato sauce and hearty meat, but still failed to reveal any legs.


I really wanted to love this one. But while it’s a perfectly decent red wine, you can do better for the money.


Grade: 87


— Ryan, Viva Italian Movies

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2008 Piccini Chianti Classico

  This bottle isn’t a bad buy since it’s only $10.99 at Costco but I was hoping for a bit more from the wine.  It has all the right markings for a great wine – Chianti Classico, DOCG, good vintage.  And maybe I bought this one at a bad time since I’m writing a book on Italian wine and have been enjoying some of the best the country has to offer.  But in my research I’ve had many Chianti Classicos under $15 with more depth and character than this one.

The wine is light in the mouth and it’s easy drinking, very simple and subtle; dry finish.  Flavor pops quick, a bit of red fruit, cherry and plum.  Finishes up quickly with a little pepper.

Again, the price is fine for this bottle.  Drink it with your anytime spaghetti dinner. Rating: 86 Points
Purchased at Costco in: Atlanta, GA
Costco item number: 604618

(And a quick pointer from my forthcoming book on Italian wine…if you aren’t looking at these wines already, be sure to explore wines from Veneto, specifically Valpolicella, and if you want to be super specific Ripasso, which is essentially Amarone at a bargain price.  I don’t think you can beat wines with any of these markings on them for the money.  Write down the bolded words and take them to your wine shop – or Costco if you get lucky)

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2011 La Quercia Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

I always like a nice Montepulciano, so I was really looking forward to sampling the 2011 La Quercia Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, which hails from the eastern-central part of Italy. A quick sniff revealed hints of cherry and oak, and the first sip was tasty – light and fruity.


Not too fruity, though. This is a medium-bodied, well-balanced wine with hints of cherry and a crisp, pleasant finish. I found it complex enough to pair with a tasty plate of fusilli with bolognese sauce without it being overwhelmed. Having said that, I enjoyed it even more on its own later that evening when I kicked back for a viewing of Francesco Rosi’s Hands Over the City, one of several memorable Italian movies celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.


At $9.99, the 2011 La Quercia Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is kind of a tweener price-wise, but I was pleased to find that it compared favorably with similar wines in the $12-$15 range. Definitely worth grabbing a few bottles.


Grade: 88


— Ryan, Viva Italian Movies

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French Wine Book Volume 2 Now Available

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

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2011 Badia a Coltibuono Cetamura Chianti

Nothing special with this one, but it’s only $8.99 so I can’t ding it too hard.  I just didn’t find a lot of flavor here.  It’s really a light bodied red, lighter than I expected, and turns into a very basic, singular Chianti.  For every day spaghetti night, bring it on.  For much else, look elsewhere.

Searching for flavor as it hits the palate.  You get a bit of cherry.  After some air (because this wine is so young), you start to get a bit more red fruit, and the wine softens up a tad.  It’s 90% Sangiovese with the rest Canaiolo.  A little earth and a pretty dry finish. 

Nothing too memorable for me, and a bottle I would probably pass on. Rating: 85 Points

Costco item number: 742244

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2008 Villa Antinori Toscana

This is an amazing wine especially for $16.99 at my Costco. I would drink this one all day long. It easily tastes like a $30-$40 bottle with its elegance and notable Italian character.

Comprised of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah, the wine has a little of that old world, earthy Italian aroma on the nose, then opens up with inviting flavors of cherry, red fruit, spice and tobacco.  Finishes up dry and lingering.

This is my third or fourth experience with this wine, and I’m always amazed at what they pack in here for the price.  A Bronze Rated and Value Pick.  Scoop these up. Rating: 91 Points

Costco item number: 799299

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2011 Bibi Graetz Casamatta Toscana

This bottle is a terrific value for only $9.99 at Costco. It’s a perfect everyday Italian red, ideal for complementing meals, but can stand just fine on its own.

Comprised of what I’m guessing is mostly Sangiovese, the wine is young and juicy; it just jumps out of the glass.  Nice dark fruit flavor covers the palatte and is rounded out by a spicy and dry finish.  This is one that’s great to enjoy young. 

An easy addition to the Value Picks, it doesn’t get much better under $10.  Drop one of these in the cart if you see it.  I’m a fan. Rating: 89 Points

Costco item number: 702148

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