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  For $8.89 at Costco, this is a solid California red blend, and a slight step above my expectations.  At this price it really is a bargain, especially if you compare to a wine like the super popular Apothic Red, which again is a fantastic bargain for $8 at Costco, but I might like this Bogle blend a tad better.

A spicy floral nose leads into a soft, rich flavor packed wine.  The varietals are Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah, and they’ve assembled the blend perfectly. Good ripe fruit, lots of red fruit flavor with a semi-dry finish that brings a little spice.  Feels wonderful in the mouth.

This is a fun little wine the more you jump into it.  I had Bogle’s Phantom blend at a dinner party a few months back and remember liking it.  This one is right there, and I’m sure a lot less expensive.  This is a very good buy. Rating: 88 Points
Purchased at Costco in: Atlanta, GA
Costco item number: 814632

Read More about 2011 Bogle Essential Red

  Anytime I see a new Spanish wine at Costco I’m immediately intrigued (especially at 15.5% alc).  Among the pallets and pallets of wine was this unassuming, under the radar Spanish blend going for $11.99.  

This wine is 40% Mazuelo, 40% Syrah, and 20% Garnacha.  Mazuelo is the name used for Carignan in the Rioja region of northern Spain.  It’s also the third most planted varietal in Spain.  Because of it’s strong acidity it’s most often used as a blending grape.  The nose gives off an aroma of fruit and acidity.  I was surprised that after a few minutes of air how the garnacha started to show itself and complement the strong acidity.  In between the Syrah was well represented carrying the fruit through to a short, chalky finish.  Overall, I was pleasantly surprised at the blend of these grapes.

I’m curious to see what a little less Mazuelo and a little more Garnacha would do to this wine.  Maybe next year…
— Adam L

Rating 88

Read More about 2011 Can Blau Montsant

This is a rather simple, but very drinkable and enjoyable $10 Zin. I like this one particularly because it could be served with just about any type of food.  Many Zins fit that bill, but this wine can truly cover the spectrum.  I enjoyed it with a grilled chicken salad, but it could hold up just fine with steak, hamburgers, or pizza (or the just passed Thanksgiving meal).

The nose gets peppery enough to make you almost sneeze.  In the mouth this wine is smooth as silk, medium in body, light and fluffy, soft tannins, with nice red berry flavors, a little tobacco/cigar box toward the close, and a good peppery spice on the finish.  Nice job on this one for $10. Rating: 88 Points

Costco item number: 245513

Read More about 2011 XYZin Old Vine Zinfandel


I’m not embarrassed about liking Merlot, even though I risk being excommunicated by some of my brethren.  As the French have proven, merlot at its best is the best. (check out the Petrus Pomerol, if you’ve got a $3,000 laying around)   Yes, California wineries abused this versatile grape in the 80s and 90s and Sideways drove a stake in its heart in 2004.  But merlot is a beautifully supple grape that balances beautifully and can transform a modest meal into a succulent supper….if it is well done. 


I was excited to discover a Napa merlot being offered by Cameron Hughes – a very versatile negociant whose bottlings are often carried by Costco.   CH reportedly produced 6500 cases of this merlot, so my hopes were raised further.  Even better, it is being offered at a very reasonable $11.59 (after a $3 discount).   I drank it with two meals over a period of two days, paired with a salmon salad and a humble hamburger.  In both cases, the merlot disappointed.  The nose was weak, if non-existent. The taste was all front-forward blackberry fruit with no discernible finish and a surprisingly high tannic quotient for a Napa merlot.  I took the two days to taste it out of concern that it needed oxygen, but I fear it needed CPR, rather than O2.   For the same money, Washington-based Milbrandt is producing some killer merlot at a similar price point and has been known to pop up at Costco over the years.  And the H3 Merlot is both readily available and a safe bet at Costco.  Keep an eye out for the rarely-sighted Milbrandt and take a pass on CH’s most recent offering.
— Reviewed by Michael S


Rating:  82 points

Costco item number:   818040

Read More about 2011 Cameron Hughes Lot 387 Merlot – Oakville

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

I’ve seen this wine in the aisles at Costco for a while now, however the Australian label, screw top bottle, and price tag of just under $15 did a good job keeping me away.  Lately my taste has been for spicy, fruity wine, so what better to drink than a Shiraz, right?  After deciding that the screw top would not deter me, I decided to go for it.

It’s amazing how one’s preconceptions can really hold a person back from something.  The wine was dark purple, and had a bright, spicy nose that reminded me why I chose a Shiraz to drink in the first place.  As I usually do, I tasted a small amount and decanted the rest for about half an hour.  

My taste buds were immediately greeted with warm spices, cherry and plum flavors. It somewhat skipped the middle part, and finish was as if someone had pushed a button to deliver a quick tang that lingered ever so slightly.  

After some time opening up, you could begin to isolate its characteristics.  It’s not the most complex wine I’ve ever had, but imagine a medium bodied wine with a spicy, cherry flavor followed by a quick rush of acidity with a plum flavor.  All those flavors lingered in the tasty, but quick finish.

Drinking this Shiraz made me reflect on how people new to drinking wine need to ask themselves what characteristics they like in wine as opposed to just drinking varietals they like.  Although a Shiraz, the spice resembled a French Chateauneauf de Pape and fruit a Spanish Monastrell.  That being said, I highly recommend reading digging deeper into a wine’s characteristics and you may be surprised by a wine you didn’t know you liked.  Have someone with wine experience taste this wine blind and see what they have to say.  

89 Points
— Adam L

Read More about 2010 McLaren Vale Kangarilla Road Shiraz


( 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

This is a ripe and vibrant Merlot from Washington State that I think is an excellent bargain at Costco for only $9.99.  It has a great, smooth mouthfeel compliments of its blend that contains small parts of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.  I’m a big fan of Merlot dominated blends like this, and this one proves you can get a lot in a bottle like this under $10.

Flavors are black cherry with some ripe blueberry mid palate.  The tannins are soft and juicy, leading to a smooth ride all the way through; finishes up dry and lasting with some tobacco, a little pepper. 

This is a nice package, not trying to do too much.  It results in a very approachable wine that I think most fans of red wine would find to be a good buy. Rating: 88 Points

Costco item number: 753996

Read More about 2011 Charles Smith The Velvet Devil Merlot

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’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

  (This is a guest post from Adam L from Southern CA.  He sent me a note about this wine and I thought everyone would benefit from reading his notes.  I have yet to see this bottle at my Costcos but I am keeping an eye out)

The wine was impressive from opening.  Dark fruit aromas immediately greet you almost daring you to let it breathe more.  I tasted flavored of dark berries and spicy cherries.  The finish was smooth, supple and spicy finish.  Tannins were minimal as was the acidity (which were coincidentally the drawbacks in my opinion).  

I wondered why the wine was priced the way it was ($18.99) considering the varietal, winery and country of origin, but after tasting, it was well worth what I paid for it.  

Normally I’m a fan of big California cabs and spicy Spanish Tempranillo’s.  For those who want a dark fruit and full bodied wine, without firm tannins and acidity, (along with a good amount of fruity and peppery spicy, this one should be considered.

Read More about 2010 Luca Syrah Laborde Double Select

Reviewed by Redneck Wine Guy

Here’s the setting – the last night of vacation on the South Carolina coast.  My family decided for a night-in watching a movie, and I decided to do the farthest from it.  Why sit inside on a perfect beautiful night at the beach when you can enjoy the last moments of mindless existence before returning to the real world of endless e-mails and voicemails.  I popped the bottle of aforementioned vino, and after doing the sniff, pour, swirl, swish, taste regime I proceeded to pour a big glass and head out for the shore.    As you may have guessed, I was engaged in some self-questioning and doubt….should I really have proceeded with this plan, on a hot and muggy night, with a glass of Zinfandel?  The other imbibers on the beach were toting beers, frozen cocktails of various incantations, and a few bottles of far-too-chilled whites.  I was the lone guy on the beach with not only a red, but a zinfandel with the hue of octopus ink.  

Upon first steps I thought I should have done the same – a cool Cuba Libré with a lime wheel would have been a spectacular choice.  But nay, instead, a glass of full-bodied red.  Well, I can attest that the evening decision was an amazing experience – solitude in nature with a glass of wine that improved and proved itself as I meandered along the sandy beach, collecting shells, and taking some pictures so I could share with my family what they were missing. 


A word of caution – the boutique and tasting notes of this wine are very much closed upon first opening.  While no wine should be solely judged upon first corking, this one especially falls into that category.  Give it some time – wine, along with life, should be enjoyed slowly and given time to expose all it has to offer.


After some walking, swirling, and sipping what was first a mediocre bottle I began to see why this family has been in the wine business since 1895.  Zinfandels usually fall into one of two categories – good/great or really bad.  Drinkable vs. non-drinkable.  This is a perfectly drinkable wine – the nose and taste of black cherry are well pronounced, a hint of ripe blackberry in the middle, with a spicy yet rounded finish of toned-down peppercorn.  I’d also throw in that there is a subtle taste of fresh chewing tobacco, but only a certain segment of the reading population would appreciate that side note!   The mouth feel is jammy and coats your tongue, but not enough so to turn away the average wine drinker.     

Overall, a good value Zin that you can be proud to serve to your family and friends.  Scouring the internet I found pricing between $17 – $26.  Personally, I think anything over $20 is a little steep for this one, but give it a while in the cellar and a breathing period once opened and I imagine you’ll get your value for the price.  After my evening experience, no matter the price it’s a hell of a better value than a cheap can of beer would have been! 


-Redneck Wine Guy rating – 90
Costco item number:
Price at Costco: $18.99

Read More about 2011 Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel

It’s Saturday, which means a lot of you are probably heading to your local Costco, and for $12.69, this is a label you’ll want to keep an eye out for.

This is Monastrell from the Alicante region of Spain, and it’s some of the best Monastrell I’ve tried for this price.  Nose is spicy, with hints of tobacco and on the palate the wine is luscious with dark fruit, blackberry, plum, a little earth and leather.  The finish is why I like Monstrell; it’s spicy and complete. 

The all around balance and execution of this wine is top notch and you’d be hard pressed to find many bottles of this caliber in this price range.  For that reason, I’m naming it to the Bronze Rated and Value Pick lists.  This is a real winner (and it scored 93 points from Wine Advocate if you’re a points person). Rating: 90 Points
*Value Pick*
*Bronze Rated*

Costco item number: 750941

Read More about 2010 Bodegas Volver Tarima Hill Monastrell

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

Really enjoyed this one and a beautiful execution of Carmenere at a Costco price of only $13.99. 

Fresh and vibrant nose, then blueberry and dark fruit combine with chocolate flavors on the palate.  Finish retains that fresh fruit, dry, chalky and lasting.  Getting a little stone/slate on the finish too as a little time passes. 

A fun one for a change from the usual varietals. Give it a shot with some hamburgers off the grill this summer. Rating: 89 Points

Costco item number: 736192

Read More about 2010 Concha Y Toro Gran Reserva Carmenere Serie Riberas