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Winery:  Tangent Winery, grapes from Paragon Vineyard

Varietal(s): 100% Sauvignon Blanc

Vintage: 2012

Region:  Edna Valley, California

Costco item number: 458071
Costco Price: $9.99

I have to admit, not only am I a down-home, straight-from-the-backwoods redneck, but I am one that has grown to love white wine.  I liken it to that trusty can of cold beer in the fridge.  It does one hell of a job quenching a mighty thirst after a long day of yard work or couch surfing while watching football.  Vino blanco is in the same category – I think it might even be the unsung hero of the wine world.  Now, please do not call heresy on me because I have seemingly bunched all white wine into a stereotypical amorphous lot.  I can attest – there are some high dollar, high quality whites out there that will stand against any red, any day.  What I am referencing is the white wine bottle of everyday drinking quality that is hanging out in your fridge right now, beckoning you to pour a glass and allow your troubles to drift away. 


Generally, when I think of a good evening Sauvignon Blanc sipper, I robotically go straight to the wines of New Zealand.  Preconceived notion I guess, but I have come to associate one with the other.   However, when this Tangent Winery Sav Blanc came coasting along my way, I had to give it a try.  This wine is well balanced between tart, acidic, dry, and sweet.  No one attribute stands high among the others, which is a good thing when you’re in the mood for uncomplicated.  I immediately picked up on the nose and taste of a Granny Smith apple – tart, yet sweet.  This wine sparkles, and provides subtle hints of citrus fruit, zest, and pineapple.  The aftertaste does not linger, but once again, this is an uncomplicated white that does not layer.  With the alcohol at 13.5%, it may be a little strong on the booze, but after a hard day’s work, maybe that is what you’re going for anyway!  Sophisticated, yet carefree!


On a side note, this is an SIP Certified Sustainable wine.  What does that mean?  These folks are doing a great job by providing great wines while taking good care of the land, the environment, and the people of which provide this awesome grape.  Drink well my friends!


Redneck Wine Guy Rating: 89

Read More about 2012 Tangent Sauvignon Blanc Paragon Vineyard

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 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

Read More about 2011 La Quercia Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

I never really considered buying wine at Costco to go along with the countless other items I’d eventually find in my shopping cart as I checked out.  As I began to drink more wine, I ventured into the wine section and found myself ogling the different wines they had in their distinctive wood boxes and stacked by the palate aisle by aisle.

In the past I was pretty much a Napa Cab guy, but the Spanish Tempranillo I bought opened me up to a wonderful world of new wines.

Since I live in Southern California, there are at least 8-10 Costco’s within an hour of where I work and live.  It’s amazing how you can walk into one Costco and find a completely different selection of wines than at a Costco 15 minutes away.  That being said, I do enjoy visiting the various Costco’s to see what they happen to have on display.

I noticed this wine about a month ago.  At $19.99, it checked the box of what I was willing to spend on a wine for this week, not to mention I was specifically looking for French wine.  As I normally do, I opened the bottle and poured a splash to taste as I decanted the rest.  The color was a very deep purple and the nose reminded me of a romantic, floral, light fruited wine that I was going to enjoy drinking.

At first taste, the wine was a little sweeter that I thought it would be with moderate acidity and tannins.  Mid palate you were greeted with flavors of plum and leather with a semi long finish.  After decanting it for about an hour, the sweetness subsided and plum flavors really took over.  I thought the wine would be a little out of balance, but after more time in the decanter it came together much better.  The wine doesn’t quite have the flavor of ripe fruit if that’s something you’re considering.

All in all, it’s a great wine for the price if you enjoy (or want to try) French wine that’s a little sweet, dark fruited with predominantly plum flavors and isn’t overly acidic or tannic (but not soft).  Rarely does a winery’s description describe a wine so well, so if you happen to find this one in your local Costco, feel free to give it a ride.

Overall 89 points for flavor and value.
— Adam L

Read More about 2011 Chateau Lilian Ladouys Saint Estephe

Here’s a Costco staple that I haven’t reviewed in some time.  This bottle, from winemaster Tuck Beckstoffer who rarely disappoints, is only $19.79, and it’s a solid California Cabernet in the always popular under $20 offerings.

Nose was tight at first, a little floral and pepper to note.  On the palate the fruit is just fantastic; ripe and pure blueberry, blackberry, cedar, a touch of green pepper.  I wanted to learn a bit more about the fruit and found the following line from the 75 Wine Company website: “…a blend from our Lake County vineyards, Mendocino fruit and Valley floor fruit from our beloved Napa Valley.”  Beckstoffer seems to own grapes everywhere and can really pick and choose how to make his wines to deliver great quality for the dollar.

Finish brings a touch of pepper, a little dry and very smooth.

This is a good buy and a solid California wine for the money.  It also seems to be pretty widely available at a lot of Costco stores so I hope you can find it. Rating: 90 Points

Costco item number: 241276

Read More about 2011 Est 75 Cabernet Sauvignon

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

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

This is an awesome, highly approachable, drink anytime, Pinot Noir.  I love Pinots because you can pair them with just about anything, and in the summertime, when the whites start blending together, a Pinot is always the solution.

This bottle is $17.99 at Costco, and it is a fantastic Pinot in my opinion.  It’s as smooth as smooth gets.  I usually hate using the word “smooth” to describe wine but in this case, it tastes near perfect.  This wine is fresh, opening up with red berry flavors with some vanilla, a little pepper, subtle tannins and a lasting finish.  I enjoyed this bottle with a spicy veggie stir fry and it was absolutely perfect.

I’m a big fan and plan on adding a couple to the cellar.  I’m also putting this on our Silver Rated wine list, which typically doesn’t see many wines under $20.  And if you didn’t read my review of the Firepeak Chardonnay, it is also a big time winner.  This is a winery to remember. Rating: 92 Points
*Silver Rated*

Costco item number: 345740

Read More about 2009 Baileyana Firepeak Vineyard Pinot Noir

This is an awesome Washington State Cab I found for $16.79 at my Costco.  I would have guessed its price to be almost double this, and I wouldn’t have been disappointed if I had paid it.

Nose is fresh, floral and earthy;  in the mouth, the first thing you notice is the beautiful tannic structure.  This wine feels like it’s about 5 years older than it is since the tannins are so subtle; love this mouthfeel.  Fruit is dark berry, tobacco, a little black licorice and pepper spice, but young and fresh.  Finish is amazing for something in this price range.  Long, touch of spice, sticky.

I’m really impressed.  This one hit me right across the board.  I’m going to add it to our Bronze Rated wine list, and highly recommend you try it.  I’m going to buy a couple more to keep on hand.  These are the kind of wines I like to try a year or two later and see how they’ve changed. Rating: 91 Points
*Bronze Rated*

Costco item number: 345392

Read More about 2011 Chateau Smith Cabernet Sauvignon

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

This one is always a summer favorite of mine.  At $7.79 this is a nicely made New Zealand style Sauvignon Blanc.  For fans of these wines, this is exactly what you expect at a great price.

In my review of the 2011 vintage I compared this to the Kim Crawford and White Haven, two very nice wines that taste similar to this one for a few dollars more.  The 2012 retains the same sub $8 price as the 2011, and it really hit me right on the super hot sunny day when I enjoyed it.

Bright citrus flavor all over the palate; a lot of lemon and lime, and some apple and grapefruit. Finishes pretty quick with some tangy acidity.  I’m going to add this bottle to our Value Picks list.  As I said before if you like New Zealand Sauv Blancs, this is a no brainer. Rating: 87 Points (same as last year)
*Value Pick*

Costco item number: 301904

Read More about 2012 Kirkland Signature Ti Point Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc