Wine Review: 2010 Kirkland Rutherford Meritage

15 08 2012

Not just wine FROM Costco, wine BY Costco. Too weird.

I had to.  Every time I’ve gone into Costco to grab a bottle or two, my eyes always linger for a moment with morbid curiosity on the various Kirkland bottles for sale.  I can wrap my head around Costco-brand ketchup or Costco-brand paper towel, but I have no idea what to make of Costco-brand wine, particularly since Kirkland (Costco’s proprietary label) keeps spitting out offerings from a vast array of well-to-do regions like Chateauneuf-de-Pape, Champagne, and, as seen here, Napa Valley.  These areas have an established pedigree in the wine world:  this particular bottle comes from Rutherford, arguably Napa’s most prestigious, highest-quality and most expensive sub-region.  Rutherford is a tiny area in the heart of the Valley — when I went to Napa it took about 3 minutes for us to drive from one end of it to the other — and is one of the best places in the world to grow the Cabernet Sauvignon grape, and its name on a label usually signifies that you’re going to be shelling out at least $50-$60 (and often much more) for the privilege of the bottle.  This bottle was $17.  The utter dichotomy in my head between “Rutherford wine” and “produced by Costco” made me have to see what was inside.  One disturbingly inexpensive Napa Cab later, I cracked the Kirkland tonight feeling equal parts anticipation and dread. Read the rest of this entry »





Wine Review: 2008 Jim Barry “Cover Drive” Cabernet Sauvignon

2 11 2011

Oh right, did I mention this wine is cricket-themed? All the more reason to Costco it up.

Long time no speak!  I was shocked and appalled to discover that it’s been almost a full week since my last PnP post, but rest assured that I have not been wine-slacking:  after 17 hours spent in classroom for the WSET Advanced last weekend, I’ve been spending my weeknight evenings preparing for my exam next weekend by re-reading my textbook (which we were told we should do 4 times in the next 2 weeks.  The book is 300 pages long.).  The whole experience to date has been both more intense and more rewarding than the Intermediate course that I took in the summer; I walked in Saturday morning feeling intimidated and out of place and left on Sunday feeling like I actually belonged in the class, which was gratifying.  I also thanked my lucky stars for 8 months of doing Pop & Pour reviews, because we had to sample, evaluate and identify FORTY wines blind in two days using the WSET’s copyrighted Systematic Approach to Tasting, designed to allow someone to create a quick, consistent, (mostly) objective analysis of the main components of a wine and use that to formulate an opinion on the wine’s price, quality level and identity.  It’s fun for the first few times, but increasingly taxing as you hit wines #18 and 19 of the day.  To give you a sense of the WSET tasting method in action, I thought I would write up tonight’s wine using their proprietary method…just to ensure that I don’t get sued, let me clarify again that I did NOT invent this approach and am a mere student and user of the WSET’s brilliant taxonomy.

Read the rest of this entry »





Wine Review: 2002 Campillo Rioja Reserva

10 08 2011

Grande Prairie, pay attention: go and find this wine. Right now.

I couldn’t resist — after talking at some length in my last post about how the Tempranillo grape was a chameleon that could show very differently depending on how it was made, and after seeing what the fruity, modern style of the grape had to offer with the 2009 Vega Moragona Tempranillo from Ribera del Jucar, Spain, I went down to my wine fridges tonight and this bottle kept calling out to me.  While the Vega Moragona did a decent job at showing off what New Age Tempranillo was all about, there are few better producers than Campillo at illustrating what can be created using the traditional approach to Spanish winemaking with this grape.  As I mentioned a couple days ago, the main difference with the more traditional style of Spanish Tempranillo is that the wines are aged in oak for significantly longer before release, often in new barrels to further enhance the oak flavours, which leads to bottles that tend to be pre-mellowed before they even hit the shelves; it’s like the wineries do most of the aging for you.  It’s an approach that makes very little sense in terms of the modern business model — how many goods retailers do you know that hang onto their inventory for 5+ years before allowing it to be sold? — but maybe that’s what makes it so charming to me.  These Spanish winemakers, especially in Rioja, the country’s traditional vinicultural heartland, are amazingly dedicated to their craft, and given the world’s recent obsession with bigger, riper, ultra-powerful reds, their wines can be found at shocking values. Read the rest of this entry »








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