Tag Archives: costco wine

Celebrating Holidays or Better Yet Every Day!

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As this years Pumpkin displays turn to harvest motifs with cider, our in-store Halloween candy has changed over to chocolate turkeys and candy canes.

Celebrations are in the air and I have come to realize that the end of the year will soon be upon us.  Of course celebrating with libations shouldn’t only occur once or twice a year. I like to think I celebrate it all whether they be small accomplishments or BIG holidays.

For example just last week Whine and Cheers for Wine passed the 20,000+ visitor mark. This week the well-known California winemaker Michael Martini was nice enough to contact me after being directed to my review of his Louis M. Martini Napa Cabernet.  Yes it’s been a good few weeks and all good reasons to celebrate.

As I went back and reviewed last years holiday post, HARK! The Holidays Approacheth!! I came to realize how much has changed. 2012: I was a Wine Steward spreading my time between a grocery store wine department and their liquor store. 2013: I became a Wine Buyer or better yet a Specialty Beverage Buyer for Whole Foods Market. Regularly teaching classes and planning wine events. I’ve had opportunities to meet wine makers face to face and the good fortune to have my writings shared by wine companies and news agencies on their social media sites.  Yes it’s been a good couple of years; all good reasons to celebrate.

This year I’ve decided to let “the people” pick our top 10 wines for 2013 and the holiday season.  These are the wines that have garnered the most visits and searches at Whine and Cheers. We already know how I feel about these wines. Now you’ll know the wines the public is researching, buying and hopefully celebrating with.

Here you go in no particular order. The Whine and Cheers For Wine Top 10 of 2013 picked by the general wine public. I’ve averaged the top vote getters for the month, quarter and year. Giving a chance to recent reviews that have not had time to garner as many visits as a review posted 9 months ago.   Drum-roll please!!!

Dr Loosen Riesling Just what the Doctor ordered!

Kirkland Signature Bordeaux:  I guess there is something to be said about Costco wine…..

19 Crimes: GUILTY! Great marketing and tasty wine.

Dreaming Tree Crush: The Luck of the Blends. Steve Reeder and Dave Matthews ROCK!

Joel Gott Zinfandel: The 2011 vs. 2009 battle

Chateau Lafitte Marcellin: 2009 Cotes de Bordeaux. 2009 great vintage for Bordeaux.

Winking Owl Vineyards Shiraz: something to be said about Aldi and Trader Joe wines?

Pinot Noir Smackdown: Concannon 2010 Selected Vineyards Pinot Noir

Chateau de Macard Bordeaux Perfect holiday gift wine per the NBC Today Show

Louis M. Martini: 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Go Mike! Martini that is.

A baker’s dozen or runners-up would add these to the list:

Innovacion Torrontes Pinot Grigio Blend: by Argentina’s Santa Julia

HANDS Cabernet Sauvignon: Robertson Valley South Africa

Gran Valle de Niebla Reserve Pinot Noir: Chile

I am glad to see many countries represented on our list; Chile, Argentina, South Africa, USA, France, Australia and Germany!

Speaking of countries, these stats always amaze me, below are the TOP 12 traveling over to this here site for wine information, minus my own USA:

Canada FlagCanada
United Kingdom FlagUnited Kingdom
Germany FlagGermany
Australia FlagAustralia
France FlagFrance
Spain FlagSpain
Philippines FlagPhilippines
Russian Federation FlagRussian Federation
India FlagIndia
Mexico FlagMexico
Denmark FlagDenmark
Netherlands FlagNetherlands

So with Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Three Kings Day and New Years Eve around the corner, I wish and hope, that we not only are able to celebrate these obvious big events in our lives but also appreciate and recognize the day-to-day happenings. Events also meant to be shared and noted. All good reasons to celebrate!

¡SALUD! and Happy Holidays

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APOTHIC RED – 2010 Winemakers Blend

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2010 Winemakers Blend

It’s taken me awhile but I finally broke down and tried this very popular wine. Similar to my experience with Cupcake which I recently wrote about; I must have an aversion to well marketed, popular and affordable vino.

Priced in the $8.00-$12.00 range it is usually available somewhere on sale.  In our store it always moves no matter the price. Its fans appreciate this wine whether on sale or not but of course we tend to sellout at the lower price points.  We easily go through 1-2 cases a week without highlighting it on an end-cap. Stock it, they will come 🙂

I would compare the APOTHIC to similar products from CUPCAKE [Red Velvet] and MENAGE A TROIS [Red Blend].  All with similar price points and marketed at the same audience if you ask me.  The audience [?]: first time wine drinkers, women, appreciators of sweet [but not too sweet] red wine, and older people to give some examples.  In my experience if I had to narrow it down to two of these I would say; new to wine drinkers along with the older population [including my parents] tend to love it.  Just imagine an older woman just beginning to try wine and I would say BINGO if asked for advice by a customer.

But admittedly that is narrowing the scope of its marketing and success. I have plenty of younger customers who have tried this wine and come back for more, male and female, excited that they found an affordable wine they and their partners can share.  For me the obvious common denominator is the sugar level or sweetness of these wines. It makes the drinking experience a lot more palpable to many.

As I decanted or poured from the bottle in this case,  I immediately noticed an earthiness on the nose that made me think there was ZIN! in there which of course there was. As a fan I was just glad to detect it so quickly.  The Zinfandel descriptors pretty much stop there though.  Also detected on the nose was a caramel [sweet] undertone.  Upon tasting,  the caramel really exploded along with vanilla and other spices.  I also noted grape sour pop as in the lollipop. I kept almost recognizing a flavor and yet it continuously escaped me. This went on for a while, as my drinking partner kept saying how much they were enjoying this wine, until I finally blurted out ROOT BEER! and they simultaneously said SASSAFRAS!!  The more likely culprit would probably be Cream Soda thanks to the aforementioned vanilla/caramel flavors.

Would I buy this wine regularly? Probably not. But once again I now understand its popularity and can easily recommend it to others who I know will not only appreciate it but make it their “go to” choice on a regular basis. ¡SALUD!

From the winemaker:

Inspired by “Apotheca,” a mysterious place where wine was blended and stored in 13th century Europe, the wines of Apothic are truly unique in style and taste.

Our winemaker Boyd Morrison crafts bold, captivating Apothic blends by using only the most distinctive California grapes. From vintage to vintage, Boyd lets the character and flavor of the individual varietals guide the shape of each blend.

to create Apothic Red using the most distinctive grapes from California’s renowned vineyards: Zinfandel for its spicy nature, Syrah for its dark fruit flavors, bold Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for a smooth finish.

Winemaker tasting notes;

The brambly spice of Zinfandel, dark fruit flavors of Syrah, the bold notes of Cabernet Sauvignon and the smooth elegance of Merlot unite to create this captivating red blend.

Apothic Red reveals intense fruit aromas and flavors of rhubarb and black cherry, complemented by hints of mocha, chocolate, brown spice and vanilla. The plush, velvety mouthfeel and the smooth finish round out this intriguing, full-bodied red blend.

13.1% Alcohol

2011 Cupcake Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc – Marlborough New Zealand

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2011 Cupcake Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc

This  Pacific Rim Wine Competition 2012 SILVER MEDAL winner has been in my sights for quite some time.  Cupcake Vineyard wines are hard to avoid in my world as a Wine Steward for a national grocery store chain and now as a liquor store manager [albeit temporary]  for the same company.  The masses like their Cupcake; be it red’s such as Malbec, Pinot Noir, Petite Syrah or their Red Velvet blend in addition to whites such as the Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio etc.   According to the winemaker; all made in a “fruit forward” style since being introduced in 2008. For more information  check out their web-site: http://www.cupcakevineyards.com

The Cupcake Sauvignon Blanc in particular was recently brought to my attention by New Jersey cousins who, it sounds to me,  have made this their house white and I can see why.  Cork finally popped I discovered what everyone else already seems to know. Good tasting wine at a good price. Our store  has it in the $10.00 range with holiday sales bringing it as low as $7.99.  It is also available at  retailers such as Costco, Total Wine etc.  Making it a perfect [Holiday] party serving choice. No wonder this wine is as popular as it is.

I detected very crisp aromas of; pineapple, citrus, green apple and stone fruits on the nose. On the palate I noted; grapefruit! [yes with an exclamation mark], Meyer lemon, tropical white fruits and cantaloupe, but unripe/green.

This is a dry medium body white with good acidity levels lingering on the tongue and a tart finish.  If this wine tasted as good as it did with pizza I can only imagine how nicely it would pair with, well, actually something that it should be paired with 🙂  ¡SALUD!

Cupcake Vineyards Tasting Notes:

It’s the long cool seasons in the South Island that allow our Sauvignon Blanc grapes to mature slowly, giving them levels of complexity and a vibrant zing. This wine is reminiscent of a lemon chiffon cupcake. It’s made up of integrated favors of Meyer lemons, Key limes and a finish that awakens the appetite.

Wine Searcher – Marlborough wine region

New Zealand‘s largest wine region in production and area, Marlborough is located at the north-eastern tip of the South Island. It stretches from the small port town of Picton in the Marlborough Sounds to the east-coast town of Kaikoura. The long, straightWairau Valley has the most extensive plantings of vines, and the entire region had 58,300 acres (23,600ha) of land planted with grapes in 2010. This young wine region has won worldwide acclaim for its Sauvignon Blanc.

Sauvignon Blanc is a white wine grape variety from western France which is now successfully grown in emerging and established wine regions all over the world. While the grape may be more readily associated with the Loire Valley (for its pivotal role in Sancerreand Pouilly-Fume), it is more likely to have originated from Bordeaux, where it is typically blended withSemillon.

HARK – The Holidays Approacheth!!

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Happy Holidays

With that statement from a friendly customer a few days ago I knew it was here. As it quickly approaches the holiday season is once again sneaking up on us. From dead of summer to Halloween POW! it’s time for; Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Three Kings Day and New Years Eve just to name a few.

Recently I was asked to act as Interim Store Director for our Winn Dixie liquor store; thus begins my first holiday season in retail. Fortunately sales of wine and spirits are through the roof with daily sales increases in the high double and even triple digits compared to last year. Thank you wine buyers!

With the holidays upon us and family parties to help plan and take part in I have given a lot of thought to what wines to bring, gift, recommend and most importantly partake of. Luckily 2012 has exposed me to many good wines,  most of them affordable and easily accessible.  So upon much review I hereby offer what I hope will be a list of good value very drinkable wines that I have discovered throughout the year. Wines  meant to be shared with family and friends.  My official:   2012  Whine and Cheers for Wine Holiday List. For additional information on each just click on the links provided below.

Old Vine Zinfandel– After many tastings this year of this varietal, and I might add not really a stinker in the bunch, I ended up with an almost tie between Project Paso and Four Vines. The winner, FourVines which I have now had about three times in the last month. For the value it cannot be beat. Usually priced in the $12.00 range it can be found on sale now for $7-10.00.

Pinot Noir– Again it came down to two: Chile’s The Show and California’s Concannon. The winner is the Concannon 2010 Selected Vineyards Pinot Noir. Price range: $8-12.00.

Red Blend I lucked out with blends this year and the two that automatically come to mind would be; Argentina’s Amado Sur [$11-13.00] by Trivento and the Dream Tree Crush by rocker Dave Matthews and Steve Reeder [$15-18.00].  If you are looking for a bolder taste I’d choose the Malbec, Bonarda, Syrah blended Amado Sur. For smooth and light I’d suggest the Dream Tree Crush.

Côtes-du-Rhône-   LES HALOS DE JUPITER 2009.  A mostly Grenache Rhone that yes even goes excellently with corned beef. Price range; under $15.00.

White Bordeaux/Sauvignon Blanc- Chateau Montet at $8.99 vs. Chateau Tour de Bonnet Blanc $14.99. Both very good wines and values. That said if I were having a holiday party serving a large group; my “go to” wine would be the Chateau Montet. Everyone will be pleased.

Champagne/Sparkling Wine  One choice automatically jumps to the forefront: Champagne De Magerie A Bouzy Grand Cru [$35-40.00].  At this price, for me at least, it is not an everyday wine but a great special occasion choice.  Domaine Ste. Michelle [$15.00] has been our house sparkler for years but since I am writing about 2012 discoveries Piper Sonoma Sparkling Brut at $12.99 gets my vote.

Riesling- Chateau Ste. Michelle out of Washington State can do no wrong by me with their many worthy wines. Their Riesling and Sweet Harvest Riesling [$10.00] are affordable, dependable good wines. An easy choice. A new discovery for me this year was the Dr Loosen “Dr. L” Riesling. At $11.99 also delicious and dependable.

Merlot Gordon Brothers Family Vineyards from Washington State’s Columbia Valley is my clear winner. Their 2007 vintage was so memorable that 8 months later I am still thinking about it.  Priced in the $18-22.00 range it is worthy of the investment.

Malbec- For me all roads lead to Argentina’s LAMADRID. From their baseline Malbec [$10.00] to the RESERVE [$18.00] to their GRAN RESERVE [$28-35.00], which I recently finally tried after sitting on the bottle for 2 years, all are worthy.  Beautiful wines of which I wholeheartedly approve for vintages; 2008, 2009, 2010.

Chardonnay Over the summer I discovered a delicious Chardonnay; Hess Select from California’s Monterey region [$8-15.00]. More recently we have enjoyed Sonoma County’s Sebastiani [$8-12.00]. Both are rich and very well-balanced. For a non-California style Chardonnay [i.e. little or no wood] I suggest Fat Bastard  [$7-12.00] out of France.  Sourced from all over the Languedoc-Roussillon region. Those accustomed to oaky California Chardonnay’s may think they are drinking a completely different varietal. It is smooth yet  dry.

Cabernet Sauvignon- This category for me turned out to be the most varied in pricing. We lucked out; great Cab’s ranging from $10.00 to over $50.00. In the lower priced range Cycles Gladiator was a great find. One that our store now easily goes through a case a week.  In the mid-$20.00 range Sonoma’s  Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve was a wonderful treat, also one I’d like to revisit.  And at the higher end of the spectrum the delicious and exciting Stag’s Leap Artemis comes to mind; complex, full-bodied and powerful.

Sauternes- To complete our holiday meal or any special occasion I always think of Sauternes,  although you can also enjoy this sweet french wine at the start of your evening as an apéritif.  Our 2012 discovery was the 2008 Chateau Doisy-Védrines. Not inexpensive at $30.00 for a 375ml [half] bottle, but it is always worthy of a special occasion shared with worthy family and friends.

Here we are at the end of our first ever 2012  Whine and Cheers for Wine Holiday List. As 2012 starts to wind down I’d like to take this opportunity to be thankful. Very thankful to all my supporters and followers, some that I have had the honor of communicating with and getting to know throughout the year.  All your visits and comments have meant the world to me. Thanks to all of you,  2012 will always be my year of  Whine and Cheers for Wine! 

Thank you!

Happy Holidays

and  ¡SALUD!

 

Kirkland Signature 2010 Bordeaux Superieur – Costco Wine

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COSTCO Bordeaux Superieur 

Yes it is true; COSTCO wine! No they actually do not make the wine themselves but  have developed relationships with winemakers around the globe. Examples include; France, Italy, Argentina and our own California region. With vast research group information in-hand defining what their customer base enjoys in specific varietals or blends COSTCO negotiates and teams with winemakers to produce a “private label” product for their warehouse type stores.  They are not alone. Sams Club Trader Joe’s and Total Wine & More admittedly also take part in similar practices as does my very own Winn-Dixie grocery store chain.  If done well it is a great way to control pricing and distribution along with providing your product an exclusivity factor because these wines would only be available at your stores.

I hate to admit that I regularly spend one of my two days off checking out the competition nearby; Fresh Market, Whole Foods, Costco and Total Wines & More. Not only am I looking for price comparisons but also products I do not sell and new discoveries to imbibe and share with friends. This is how I discovered the Kirkland Signature 2010 Bordeaux Superieur Gran Vin de Bordeaux. At $6.99, my first foray into Costco wines. I am happy to report that except for COSTCO who’s pricing structure boggles the mind sometimes, Winn-Dixie wines are very competitively priced and usually sale priced lower than the other establishments mentioned.

Label notes:

70% Merlot 30% Cabernet Sauvignon

Chateau Gardera is a fine producer of Bordeaux Superieur wine, an outstanding source for this Kirkland Signature wine.  Bordeaux Superieur an appellation that covers the same area as Bordeaux AOC is known for smaller yields. The property is situated on slopes to the south of St Emilion overlooking the Garonne River. A carefully selected blend was aged 12 months in Allier french oak barrels creating a luscious well balanced and easy drinking wine that exudes finesse   The high quality fruit has aromas of ripe cherries  black currant berries and subtle toasted notes which flow to a generous palate and silky tannin’s. Drink now through 2016.

My notes:

Garnet in color, the following aromas on the nose were detected upon decanting; red ripe fruit, tobacco, oak and a richness to it as it opened. Smooth medium tannins were noted along with the fact that it was drinkable straight out of the bottle as it was opened. Decanting not required but still suggested.  A lingering sour grape finish was noted at first but as time passed and the wine breathed this became better defined as a dry finish.  The nose started to fade at about 30 minutes yet its sweetness became stronger on the palate along with the detection of cocoa.

At the price of $6.99 this is a very drinkable wine. Worthy of a price point twice as high. That said, it was not very exciting. A good any day wine? Sure. An affordable wine? YES. A wine you’d jot down on your shopping list and buy every time you got the chance? No, not for me. But considering the fact that Wine Spectator recently rated the 2009 vintage of this wine at 87 points there may be many out there that would disagree.

Doing further research on the Kirkland Signature Series I was impressed to find quite the variety of wines available.  I am intrigued by their Meritage and even more so a Costco Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Looks like I know what I will be doing on one of my upcoming days off…. ¡SALUD!