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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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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

93 Points

94 Points

94 Points

95 Points 



 92 Points

91 Points

92 Points

 92 Points

92 Points

91 Points

91 Points

92 Points

91 Points

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2008 Leone d’Oro Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Figli d’Italia

This wine is huge on the dark fruit, just begging to be enjoyed with a hearty Italian or red meat dish. It took me a while to figure this wine out (which is a good sign); its nuances hit you a little different on each drink (mostly Sangiovese grapes with a little Canaiolo).  For $17.79 at my Costco, I think this is a real bargain for the quality.

Surrounding the dark fruit are hints of leather and tobacco that hold on throughout the finish.  This wine really coats your mouth which is again why I think it would be awesome with the right dish, maybe something a little spicy; I’m thinking sausage and peppers.  It’s a big one, full in body and it hangs strong all the way through.

I’m down to my last glass now and wish I had more.  This is a nice one and it will make a good addition to our Bronze Rated wine list.  Low 90’s. Rating: 90 Points
*Bronze Rated*

Costco item number:  695794

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Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2012 at Costco

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

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2009 Tenuta Sette Ponti Oreno Toscana

A big Super Tuscan that’s just delicious from start to finish and drinking surprisingly good for being so young.

Nice nose, picking up some spice and red fruit.  In the glass, it’s medium in body, feels good with soft tannins leading me to believe it would be slightly older and more mature than an ’09.  On the palate, it hits big with flavor, that Super Tuscan burst that you have to love.

Flavors of red fruit, licorice, kind of perfumy at times and I chalk that up to the acidity and dryness to the finish.

I’m a fan and at $84.99 at my Costco it’s certainly not cheap.  I enjoyed this with a spicy Vietnamese beef noodle dish (not what I had planned but I had to get the review in), but it was a nice complement.  It’s always amazing to me how much both wine and the meal can change when paired together.

I think that says a lot about this wine.  It’s big and strong, capable of holding up in almost any situation.  The dryness to the finish slows the wine down just a hair more than I would prefer, but other than, it’s a rock star from every angle.  An easy addition to the Silver Rated wines. Rating: 94 Points

*Silver Rated*

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New Wine Book – Just Published: Around the Wine World in 40 Pages

I’m happy to announce the publication of my latest wine book titled Around the Wine World in 40 Pages: An Exploration Guide for the Beginning Wine Enthusiast.

It’s $3.99 for the Kindle with a physical version coming down the line. The book takes readers on a journey throughout the most popular and notable wine growing regions in the world, providing an inside perspective on what wine drinkers at all experience levels need to know about the grapes and styles from each region, along with the price points and suggestions on specific wines to try.  I even include references to a lot of wines that can be found at Costco.  I hope you enjoy.
— Editor

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