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Winery: Catena Vineyards

Varietal(s): 100% Malbec

Vintage: 2011

Region: Mendoza Province (Maipu, Lujan de Cuyo, Tupungato, San Carlos), Argentina

Costco price: $16.99


It’s September in Georgia and there is a cool breeze in the air.  It is the time of year when God no longer allows the devil to play with the thermostat, allowing us to say goodbye to the sweltering heat of the Southern summer.  The humidity is replaced with a whisper of fall in the leaves, giving invitation to pull camping gear out of storage, light a fire, and find a quiet spot in the woods to gather with friends and nature alike. 


I had originally picked this wine to accompany a venison roast, but a last-minute camping trip changed the plans. In the cool of the evening, with sausages roasting over a campfire, our crew opened this gem for it to tell the world a story. It is fitting – a wine originating from the high mountains of Argentina was thoroughly enjoyed in the not-quite-as-high elevations of North Georgia. 


Upon pulling the cork, this Malbec has a pleasant bouquet of ripe berries, plum, vanilla, and leather.  While the sausages are browning and the fat popping over the fire, we let it breathe to open up.  Tonight, we trade stemmed glasses for some fancy plastic wine glasses that are the wine world’s version of a Solo cup.  In the “glass”, the wine is dark purple.  What is most striking is the balance – a wonderful blend of soft tannins and tame acidity.  Very few wines would appeal to the amateur and connoisseur alike, but this is one that is well fitting.  Not complex in nature, it is smooth and enjoyable, complimenting the simple dinner we have prepared.  While Malbecs are rarely a first reach for me in-store, this wine has shown me that the varietal is worth the exploration.


Redneck Wine Guy Rating: 90

Costco Item number: 472719

Read More about 2011 Catena Mendoza Malbec

This is a young one (it’s hard to believe we’re drinking 2012s already), and it feels a little disjointed upon opening.  I’m willing to bet it will even out with a little more time in the bottle (and likely will tonight with some more air).  But even as it stands now, it’s not a bad buy at $8.99 at Costco.

Nose of perfume and flowers, gets a little spicy the more you put your nose in. The wine is medium in body, lighter than I was expecting, and the lightness feels good in the mouth amid the firm tannic structure.  I think it would improve in the palate with a little more age and air time. Flavors of red berry, cherry and tobacco.  The finish is a little short and discreet. 

For the under $9 price, this falls in line with most other low priced Mendoza Malbecs – they are hard to beat for the money.  But going $5 up market could yield a wine with a lot more character. Rating: 87 Points

Costco item number: 485363

Read More about 2012 Bodega Enrique Foster Ique Malbec Mendoza

(Here’s another reader review from Adam in California)

Nose led with sweet fruit and hinted of a smooth texture and blackberry flavor.  Popped and poured my first sip which had the dark fruit spicy flavor and was smooth.  Mid palate you could feel it coat the back of your throat with a fine texture that I hoped meant a great finish was coming.  Finish was not as long and complete as I was tempted with, with some but not marked acidity.

I decanted it for about 30 minutes and came back a little disappointed.  The dark fruit was still there but was showing signs of being muted as was the spice that accompanied it on my first sip.  I let it sit another 20 minutes or so and it seemed to want to start to settle.  The Blackberry flavor returned when I came back to it with a lingering tartness that pretended like it was going to turn quite bitter, but never did.  Still I couldn’t quite put my glass down.

This one is easy to drink, but not for the above average wine drinker.  $13.99 price tag.

Read More about 2007 Clos des Andes Bodega Poesia Malbec Reserva

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

Crazy value for only $6.99, which is $2 cheaper than it was at my store last year. Even at $8.99 I thought last year’s was a bargain. At $6.99 for the 2011, this is a no brainer.

It’s fruity and young, with ripe flavor as in years past.  But I’m picking up a lot more of a floral and spice component on the finish, especially after a little air, that really brings more to the wine.  Nice job on this one Costco.  I’ve had several readers write in with praise the minute this one hit their stores, and they couldn’t have been right.

Is it the greatest Malbec of all time?  No.  But it just might be the best one for $7.  A definite member of the Value Picks. Rating: 87 Points

*Value Pick*

Costco item number: 777761

Read More about 2011 Kirkland Signature Mendoza Malbec

If you like Malbecs from Mendoza, you really need to explore those from the other side of the world too, notably Cahors France. This is a beautiful Malbec that is awesome on its own and could pair with almost anything. For $14.99 at Costco it is also a very fair priced wine.

Fruity nose, a little floral and it gets peppery if you inhale enough.  Great medium body feels perfect in the mouth.  Has perfumy scents before it opens up into spicy cherry and red fruit flavors.  Highly acidic and tight, this one attacks the lower jaw muscles as it leads into the spicy finish.

A really nice wine at this price.  Very different from its cousins in Mendoza.  This is how the French do Malbec and I really enjoyed it.  Spring this one on your wine snob friend; then tell him what it is and how much it cost. Adding to our Bronze Rated List. Rating: 89 Points
*Bronze Rated*

Costco item number: 685676

Read More about 2009 Chateau Saint-Didier-Parnac Prieure De Cenac Cahors Malbec

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

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Read More about’s Highest Rated Wines of 2012

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

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

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