2010 Kirkland Signature (series) Cabernet Sauvignon, Mountain Cuvee, Napa Valley

A surprisingly good destination for wine IF you don't require a large set of choices.
A surprisingly good destination for wine IF you don’t require a large set of choices.

Costco does a lot of things right, and their wine departments, despite their limited selections, have some superb selections at very low prices.  Costco, if you hadn’t noticed, has gone headlong into the private label game. They have been purchasing, from what I can tell, from some first-rate producers. They may not be getting these wineries top shelf ‘lots’, but undeniably, the quality is quite high. This Napa Cabernet is a perfect example of the relatively high-end wine they can put on the shelf for a fraction of the cost the actual wineries that made the wine.

2010 Kirkland Signature, Cabernet Sauvignon Mountain Cuvee, Napa Valley

download (1)Right off the bat, I get a nose full of green herbs and a touch of Bell Pepper. This is buttressed by lots black Cassis fruit, fennel bulb some toasty oak.  The wine is rich, with a full mouth feel,  bright acid, firm but round tannins. There is plenty of dense fruit on the mid-palate, full of black plum, blackberries, and some bordeaux-like Cassis notes. There is a significant palate impression here, with typical mountain Cabernet structure of both higher acid and ripe tannin, coupled with green pyrazine bell pepper notes that add interest, and an old school way.  A solid wine for those who don’t mind some leafy-green under-ripeness (88 points.)  But this will not be good at all for those who are intolerant (and those folks are legion) of bell pepper in their Cabernet  (80 points.)  $19


“It is likely that this a ‘lot’ that Girard sold off  to Costco because its marked bell pepper notes did not fit into their house style.”

This Kirkland Signature Cabernet was made by Girard Winemaking team of Marco DiGiulllo and Glenn Hugo.  DiGiullo was the first winemaker at Lakoya, in Jess Jackson’s portfolio, and has made some pretty remarkable wines over the years. It is likely that this a  lot that Girard sold off  to Costco because its marked bell pepper notes did not fit into their house style.  The cool 2010 vintage is likely a contributor to the under-ripe flavors found in this wine.  Clearly solid winemaking here, this just is not going to be in everyone’s wheelhouse.

Post Script. Looking around the internet, some people are really loving this wine. I don’t think the overall quality validates some of their extreme enthusiasm.


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Diary of a Winebuyer

About Me: Thirty years ago, I graduated with a degree in political science from the College of Letters and Science at the University of California at Berkeley. Having grown up at the height of the Cold War, I still have vivid remembrances of being instructed to hide under our elementary school desk, covering our heads. The young, white, female teacher, training us without explanation, to face away from the windows. I suppose it is not all that surprising that I had a particular interest in the realpolitik of international relations. My fascination grew with the discovery that certain conditions almost uniformly exist where all revolutions ferment. Did this mean that the revolutions which had occurred in the first half century were revolutions which had been usurped by Marxists who were in the right place at the right time? Probably. A favorite professor was A. J. Gregor. This was a man who, while rakishly wearing a Gestapo-styled black leather motorcycle jacket, exuded expertise on fascism (which he looked the part) and Marxism. Improbably, he did it with a significant swagger. Then in my last semester, I had the blind luck to take a class on Asian Marxist revolution, and the professor, who just happened to be visiting that year while he worked on some unnamed project, was Chalmers Johnson. In retrospect, I should have known his name, as he was a luminary in the political science community but at that time, I did not. It was a remarkable opportunity to experience the ivory tower, but I seem to remember being anxious to get on with life. After college, I drifted through a few of jobs that were of interest to me. One of my former high school teachers said to me. "If I were in your shoes, I'd get a job as a flight attendant." So in order to be young while I could still afford to, I accepted a job serving chicken or beef at Pan American. With that airline losing money faster than it could sell its routes, I got a job doing cellar work at David Bruce Winery. This was the beginning of my wine career. All during this period, I wrote a still unpublished novel about homegrown terrorists the U.C. Berkeley campus, attempting to use some of what I learned in school, weaving in the Vietnamese political and military strategies of Dau Tranh as professor Johnson had lectured years before. Since the early 1990's, I have been involved in the wine industry, selling fine wine in both the retail and wholesale arenas. I have approached learning about wine, by always challenging myself to question how I know what I think I know? And in an effort to try to find answers I've turned, with varying degrees of success to wine books. Overall, I've not been happy with the quality of most wine writing, finding the authors either to lack any deep knowledge, or unable to move much past what I consider to be superficial information. I recognize that wine writers have to monetize their work, but I believe this has dramatically held back our knowledge and understanding of wine. I have set out to add to our industry's base of knowledge where I can. My first series, 'The Terroir of Burgundy' (which I should probably re-edit and complete some kind of conclusion, but I got involved in this project), can be viewed here. I currently work as a sales and marketing manager for a Burgundy and Bordeaux importer based in Atherton, California.

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