Wine Talk

Snooth User: EMark

WS 91 Wine at Costco (U.S. Centric)

Posted by EMark, Aug 17, 2011.

A few weeks ago there was a thread here on Snooth whose subject diverged into a short discussion on the merits of buying wines at Costco.  For those of you who are unfamiliar, Costco is a discount warehouse type of retail store.

Yesterday, I was reading the current issue of Wine Spectator.  Behold and lo, on page 108, under "Best Buys" they assign a 91 score to Kirkland Signature Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee de Nalys 2009.  ($20 US).

Kirkland is the Costco "private label."  You can buy Kirkland bottled water, Kirkland toilet paper, Kirkland shampoo, Kirkland all kinds of things.  Clearly, there is no Kirkland Estates winery.  They have procured this wine from somebody and had a Kirkland label stuck on the bottle.

I'm sure that this label is probably on several thousands (if not tens of thousands) of bottles.  So, you have to wonder if there is consistancy across the entire population of bottles.  I have to tell you, though, the next time I'm in Costco (usually, an adventure that occurs no more than once a month or so), I'm going to look for this

Replies

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Reply by hhotdog, Aug 17, 2011.

i belong to another named warehouse type store as well ...my brother goes to his local cosco store and i will ask him to check this out as well. we'll see i guess?

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Reply by clifhenry, Aug 18, 2011.

The wine is produced by Domaine de Nalys, a highly regarded estate with history dating back over 200 years. Costco simply contracts with the Domaine to produce a "cuvee" from grapes that are likely purchased on the open market that the stores can retail as a "private label" to their customers. Knowing the Domaine's reputation, I would guess that the wine will conform to the house style and be very consistent throughout the lot.At the price, probably an excellent bargain.

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Reply by EMark, Aug 18, 2011.

Thanks for the info, clifhenry.  With this encouragement I'll definitely look for it.

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Reply by MafiaGal, Aug 18, 2011.

Costco brand wines are the best kept secret (at least the California Costco). My favorites are the Kirkland Rutherford Meritage (red blend) and the Kirkland Napa Cabernet.  Both fantastic. I usually read the label to see what region the grapes are from to determine how the wine may taste. For Barberas, Sangiovese and some Zins, I look for the foothills (Amador, Placerville).  Of course Cabs, you can't go wrong with Napa and Rutherford. 

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Reply by dmcker, Aug 19, 2011.

So Costco assigned the 91 rating?

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Reply by EMark, Aug 19, 2011.

You'd have to pose that question to Marvin R. Shanken, Publisher and Editor of Wine Spectator.  It appeared under the banner of his magazine.

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Reply by steve666, Aug 19, 2011.
Edited Aug 19, 2011

I just bought two bottles of that on Thursday, haven't opened them yet -- bought 20 bottles of various wines to test them.   I generally find the Kirkland label wines to be decent for the price, but not my favorites at their price points.   I would consider myself somewhat knowledgable as I buy about 500 bottles a year from various sources.

steve

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Aug 19, 2011.

So now we are two levels into the negociant aspect.  Nalys, then  Costco.  My guess is they are buying excess wine/juice from wineries to make the Kirkland, and with the CdP have to divulge the maker to have any market, but are selling on region with the US/Napa wines, where the buyers are more familiar with the regions and willing to buy as long as the price is right. 

This would also explain why Cam Hughes, who used to do a lot of his business through CostCo, is now showing up at CostPlus, K&L and some other places, whereas before it was strictly by his website and, wink wink, CostCo.  They've cut him out, it would seem.  Interesting to see how that goes.

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Reply by dmcker, Aug 20, 2011.

Have *always* had my questions about WS editorial policy.

Fox, sounds like a small story in the Cam Hughes shift. How serious can CostCo be about trying to build up the Kirkland brand in the wine context, though? Marketeers in control never leads to anything good (other than more cash for the business owners, which is good for them I guess, other than that it reinforces tendencies to let the marketeers loose again).

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Reply by steve666, Aug 20, 2011.

Costco products are generally good and they assure a winery of long term connections -- Cam Hughes had a long run with Costco, for several years, and as far as I know, Costco was the first people to carry them and they made the brand a success.   Costco is the largest importer of parmesan cheese in the US and they carry a Parm Reggiano that is 36 months old and very good.  Being in Oakland, I have access to a vast variety of wines, but if I lived anywhere else, I am sure I would buy lots of Kirkland branded wine.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Aug 20, 2011.

Hey, steve666, I'm in Oakland, too, and the drive and hassles of going to Pt. Richmond are reason to skip CostCo when you have the resources we have here.  But CamHughes is not a winery, he's a negociant, sort of, who buys juice from wineries that have too much.  He's admitted in an interview (I'll find a link later) that he cannot even be entirely sure the winery will give him the juice he has tasted or been promised.  The wineries bottle it for him for the Lot series.  CostCo was a good way to get his bottles to market because they generally didn't carry the original wines and his "branding" is consistent with the CostCo style.  Lately he's gotten closer to actually making wine with the "flying winemaker," Evergreen and Rockridge (Oakland again!) offerings.  But I wouldn't count on CostCo entering into a long term relationship with anyone--they're kind of a glorified rack jobber, and that's the antithesis of a long term relationship. 

d, I'll check around and see what's going on with Hughes.  I think that the market got rocky for him--the pride that kept wineries from discounting their own juice, or from cutting prices, is in much shorter supply.  Rumors of the recovery of the high mid to upper end are just rumors.  I know that friends who never considered selling to discounters or creating a second label are doing just that.  Busineses that do well when the wine business does well up in Sonoma County are still suffering. We're going to a wedding up there in a few weeks where there will be some industry folks. I'll ask around.  Anyone else know anything?  outthere? HondaJohn?


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