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2009 Bodega El Angosto Tinto

  This wine is an absolutely steal for only $11.99 at Costco.  I’m going back today to try to buy more.  I enjoyed this bottle with two other people who also agreed that it drank like it cost $30-$40.  If you are a regular reader of this site, this is why you buy wine at Costco, right here.  Go get it.

Smells expensive on the nose, a little cinnamon and some spices.  I thought the wine appeared a bit younger than 2009 when I poured it, and when you get into it more you realize we are drinking it at a perfect time. 

The wine is medium in body with ripe fruit, mostly red fruit with a hint of plum; strawberry licorice, some leather aromas toward the end.  Tannins are juicy; a long multi-layered finish.  A superb wine that I still can’t believe was only $12.

This wine will go on our Silver Rated wine list as well as our Value Picks.  This is an incredible buy right now at Costco. Rating: 92 Points
Purchased at Costco in: Atlanta, GA
Costco item number: 755334
*Silver Rated*
*Value Pick*

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2009 Abelis Carthago Luis Selection Toro Crianza

  Costco always turns up the heat with their wine selection during the holidays.  I can’t remember the last time I saw such a big selection of different varietals of wine there in a long time.

Maybe it was due to the 90 point IWC review (note the sticker on the bottle), but this Spanish Crianza did not meet my expectations.  The color is a dark purple and nose almost tangy, acidic and powerful in itself.  That theme continued as this is a bold wine with almost grippy tannins and medium plus acidity that overpowers the small amount of dark fruit I tasted.  It left me looking for more after a short tangy finish.  I came back the next day and paired it with some Manchego cheese which helped the fruit come through more and it improved considerably.  Goes to show you how a wine can improve with food, especially when they’re from the same region.

There are better Spanish wines you can find for $14.99 (or less) at Costco, and if you hunt around you can find this for less elsewhere.
— Adam L

Rating: 87
Purchased at Costco in: Van Nuys, CA
Costco item number: 293705

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2010 Castillo de Maluenda Calatayud Altos de Sueno


Wine: Altos de Sueno

Winery:  Castillo de Maluenda

Varietal(s): 75% Grenache, 25% Syrah

Vintage: 2010

Region:  Calatayud Appelation, Aragon Region, Spain

Costco price: $9.89
Reviewed by: Redneck Wine Guy


As I write this, the South has settled into a cold, rainy streak.  The rain seems to never stop, flooding trout streams and keeping wildlife bedded down.  The waders and camouflage stay put up and the pajamas stay on….sometimes all day long.  What I do love about this time of year is the comforts of soul food and red wine.  From stews to roasts, Tempranillo to Bordeaux, the season offers a plethora of opportunity to tour the world in the comforts of home by pairing foods from one country with wines of another.  Today – Spain.


It is safe to say that Spain has caught the eye of the wine world, and in recent years has taken the US market by storm.  Some are coining it the “Spanish Wine Renaissance”, bringing a country rich in wine history back into the conversation after disappearing from world view for many years.  The options are seemingly endless, with many years’ worth of wine exploration that await.


I paired this Altos de Sueno from the Aragon region of Spain with a venison stew made from a hunt from last year.  The grapes in this blend (Grenache/Syrah) compliment and pair well with game meats and each bring out the nuances in the other.  The wine comes off very young, moderately jammy, and probably in need of a little more time in the bottle.  The nose and palate are vibrant with cherry, blackberry, licorice, and is super fruit forward.  Mildly to moderately acidic.  Candidly, I was not all too impressed on Day #1.  What I did find most interesting is Day #2 – both the wine, and the stew, were phenomenally better!  I expected that with the stew, but not with the wine. The “fruitiness” was still there, but was tamed and the palate much more well-rounded.  Good everyday, non-pretentious wine.  Going against the grain, I give it two ratings: Day #1 and Day #2.


Redneck Wine Guy Rating: 85/89

Purchased at Costco in: Atlanta, GA

Costco item number: 803597 

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2009 Vina Real Crianza

  This is a great deal for $10.99 at Costco and really over delivers. The first thing I picked up was the bright cherry aroma on the nose along with the deep red color of the wine.  The fruit comes through immediately and continues mid palate with medium tannins and just enough acidity to balance it out.  It’s medium body allows the flavors to stand out without being overpowered.  My favorite was the red fruit spice that took the wine home through the finish.  Tasting it blind, it might fool you into thinking it could be a Bordeaux.  I enjoy how these Spanish wines from the same region can be so different.  
— Adam L

Rating: 90 Points
Purchased at Costco in: Van Nuys, CA
Costco item number: 782532

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2011 Can Blau Montsant

  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

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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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2009 Bodegas Ramon Bilbao Limited Edition Rioja

I just came back from a high end Napa tasting at my local wine shop where I had some excellent Mountain and Rutherford Cabs.  I opened this to have one more glass and was surprised at how well it stood up since my palate was dialed into more new world wines that cost much more than this one did ($12.99 at Costco).

The nose projects nice dark cherry aromas, a little chocolate and some earth.  Palate and mid-palate this wine really holds up well.  Rich flavors, more cherry, red fruit, licorice that is smooth and fruity.  Finishes subtlety at first with a nice fruit kick that’s dry and lasting.

This one tastes a few years older than it really is; a nice elegance at a favorable price.  A good buy for sure. Rating: 89 Points

Costco item number: 786005

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2010 Bodegas Volver Tarima Hill Monastrell

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

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2010 Bodegas Lar De Paula Rioja Tempranillo

This Rioja is just perfect all around and a joy to drink.  The timing couldn’t be better as the tannins have really softened and the wine just cushions in the mouth. 

Great balance of every component.  The nose is fresh, floral and a little spicy. Big cherry and rich red fruit flavors on the palate surrounded by those soft tannins. Drink after drink you want to go in for more. This leads into a stunning finish with hints of oak and spice that lingers for a long time.

I misplaced my purchase notes on this wine so I don’t have a Costco item number or the price I paid.  I believe it was around $15-$20 which makes this an incredible buy.  Definitely grab this one if you see it, especially if you like big, juicy and finely executed worldly reds.  A Silver Rated wine for me. Rating: 92 Points
*Silver Rated*

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2009 Palacios Remondo La Montesa Rioja

This is a lovely one for only $13.49.  It’s big on flavor and lasting on the finish, making it a perfect food wine, or just an enjoyable experience on its own.  A solid buy at this price.

It’s an ’09 so it benefits from a little time, which really makes right now a good time to drink it.  I think it’s perfect timing but that won’t change in the next few years to come.  Nothing special about the nose, and it leads on to the quality to come.  In the mouth, this one is packed with red fruit, strawberry, hints of leather and then almost black licorice, which seems a little odd around the other red fruit.  But really really nice.  Perfect, through to the finish. Even better with some air time. 

Red wine fans looking for a great wine at a great price don’t need to look further.   This is going on the Value Picks list, and I plan on grabbing a few more if I see them. Rating: 91 Points

*Value Pick*

Costco item number: 369408

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2011 Bula Montsant

An enjoyable big red blend from Spain’s Montsant region that is a fairly good bargain for only $11.59.  This is still pretty young but drinks nice right now, fresh and clean.

The Bula is a blend of three varietals – 40% Mazuelo, 40% Grenache and 20% Syrah – so it’s my kind of blend and the wine comes together quite nicely.  Floral nose, not as earthy as I was expecting.  Very fresh again. Flavors of red fruit, spicy cherry, red licorice with a little mineral.  Quick burst of spice on the finish.

A very good buy for under $12, food friendly and a good crowd pleaser if you have a group. Rating: 87 Points

Costco item number: 734143

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2010 Tranco Monastrell Cabernet Sauvignon

A fair price for only $8.49 but as far as these low priced Spanish reds go, I think this one is pretty middle of the road. In fact, I found the 2010 Hecula Monastrell from a week or so ago, to be a more enjoyable wine and it’s even less expensive.

The story with the Tranco is this.  A good wine.  Ripe, fresh.  A bit quiet from the get go, but on the palate, begins to show it’s true colors.  The Monastrell brings a little spice, some nice dark fruit and it’s balanced nicely with the Cab’s boldness.  Finish is on the weak side.  The wine comes on and disappears pretty quickly.

For the price, it’s a decent buy.  If you want to experiment with these reds a bit, give this one a shot.  It’s from Yecla which is almost always a good sign but I’d keep my eye out for other wines from this region.  They might cost a few dollars more but I think the jump in quality would be worth it. Rating: 85 Points

Costco item number: 721763

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2010 Bodegas Castano Hecula Monastrell

I bought this one among 5 or so other bottles and just figured at $6.89 why not? I’ve had some nice Monastrells before and figured this would be fine. But it turned out to be quite the bargain for under $7, a price point where you rarely find good drinkable reds. The more and more I dug into this one, I was really looking forward to every new drink.  This is a solid buy.

Monastrell is a Spanish red grape that has a fair amount of fruit and (particularly in this incarnation) has a dry tannic firmness to it. Some people may not love that, but I did. It’s food friendly without being overbearing.  Young, ripe with a dusty red fruit flavor that’s peaks rather quickly.  Fast on the finish too, but what can you really expect in this price range.

This is a Value Pick all the way, and a good one to check out.  Not for everybody but at $7 it’s hard for me not to like it. Rating: 87 Points
*Value Pick*

Costco item number: 600967

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2008 Celler Malondro Besllum Montsant

This is a lovely wine, and I hate to say I was surprised (since it’s from Montsant), but it certainly met my already somewhat high expectations. I just haven’t had many wines from Montsant that I didn’t think were great for the price. It’s a killer region, and this wine is a fantastic bargain for only $12.99 at Costco.

The wine really does leap out of the bottle.  Big aromas, red fruit, juicy, lots of ripe red cherry, red licorice, then a little cedar and spice on the finish. 

(15 minutes later) Now the wine has had a little air, and it’s getting even better.  The red fruit flavor keeps magnifying.  This is a fun one.  Grapes are Grenache, Carignane, and Syrah, which frequent readers of this site will know are some of my favorite grapes especially in European blends such as this.  So maybe I’m a little biased.  Try it for yourself, and let us know.  I’m going with a low 90’s rating and placing this one on our Bronze Rated wine list. Rating: 91 Points
*Bronze Rated*

Costco item number: 600976

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