Begging for a Brawl – A Costco Pinot Noir Face-Off

Fast facts:

  • 2016 Goyette Sonoma County Pinot Noir ($9.99 @Costco; California)
  • 2016 Kirkland Signature Carneros Napa Valley Pinot Noir ($9.99@Costco; California)
Same vintage, same grape, same price. The similarities end there….

Finding Pinot Noir under $10 from a desirable appellation is no small feat these days. So when I came upon one from Napa and one from Sonoma at my friendly neighborhood Costco – both priced at $9.99, I set out to see how the two stacked up.

It wasn’t a fair fight…

The Goyette Pinot was a perfectly pleasing glass of vino. It presents with a nice fresh purple/red color with nice clarity.  It has big, fruity aromas of black, red and blue berries.  (I suspect there may be a nice big dollop of Syrah in the blend.) Once I sipped it, I found a big mouthful of cherry pie flavors, nicely balanced over its long finish.  The oak flavors are integrated to the point of being masked and hard to discern. Which is a good thing – IMHO Pinot Noir should be driven predominantly by fruit, not oak, as it is easily overwhelmed by the latter.

The winemaker for the KS Pinot Noir would have been wise to keep that in mind when crafting this rendition.  I have reviewed this wine once before, and was surprised at how inferior this version was. You can find the prior review here:

A Pair from Costco (Riffing on Burgundy)

The label suggests this is the same wine previously reviewed.  But I can state with some confidence that it is not.  Fact is, big production private label wines, unlike their more traditional counterparts are not cranked out once per vintage. They may be assembled 4-6 times per year.  And while the winemakers work to achieve a certain sameness from bottling to bottling, they are often dealing with different component parts and – as a result – some variation inevitably occurs.  Sometimes this can be a good thing as a new bottling might actually be BETTER than a preceding one.  Alas, this was not the case with this wine.

I generally avoid reviewing wines that I don’t like, as I would rather spend my energy directing readers to really good wine values.  But sometimes it is instructive to deconstruct what is wrong with a wine. This Kirkland Signature Pinot Noir (hereinafter KS PN) was a good place to start since I can say that it actually has very few redeeming qualities.

In the glass, the KS PN looks a bit anemic – thin, with a hint of brown in the red.  It looked like an aged red Burgundy, but it isn’t.  It smells like Pinot too, with notes of violet, dusty earth and leather.  But once in the mouth the wine was a mess.  It was all tart fruit (think wild cherries and cranberries without enough sugar to make them palatable) and tight tannins.  Clearly this wine was subjected to some oak enhancements, probably oak chips or oak sawdust.  The wine tasted like a sawmill smells.  It was better day two, but still not enjoyable.

So if you have a hankering for a nice Pinot that won’t break the bank, check out the Goyette.  Once you have, let us know what you think by using our Contact Us page.

Cheers!

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