A Screaming Good Merlot Deal from Costco, Dissected

Fast facts:

  • 2017 Chateau Ste. Michelle, Merlot, Columbia Valley, WA ($8.69* @ Costco, California – Item #160933)

*net price after $4.00 in store discount


Here is the news that those of us in the wine business woke to on July 12 of this year:  “Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, the largest winery in the Pacific Northwest and third-largest premium winery in the country, was sold to Sycamore Partners, a New York-based private equity firm. Sycamore, which specializes in retail and consumer investments, will purchase the company in the second half of this year from the current owner, tobacco giant Altria, for a cool $1.3 billion in cash.”

Interesting, but on its face, you may think that this means nothing to the average wine consumer. That is not entirely true…

As the curator of this blog, I take keen interest in transactions such as these. That is because quite often in deals such as this, the buyer does not purchase older “library wines.”  They purchase the “current vintage” wines and all the newer yet unreleased wines in tank and barrel, but orphan the older wines to be liquidated by the Seller. In other words, they are not part of the deal.

This wine is a great example. As a 2017, it is probably a vintage (maybe even two vintages) behind the current vintage that is being sold at retail and in restaurants.  This happened a lot during the worst of Covid and the hangover lingers.

This good for us bargain hunters.  There is nothing wrong with these wines, but the Seller has a big incentive to get them off of their balance sheet and onto your wine shelf.  We in the trade call this “turning inventory into cash.” Which is how it comes to be a Costco with a “cool” $4.00 off the regular price – making it basically half the price it usually sells at in other retail outlets.


Bottle and glass of 2017 Chateau Ste. Michelle, Merlot, Columbia Valley, WA - $8.69 at Costco
Bottle and glass of 2017 Chateau Ste. Michelle, Merlot, Columbia Valley, WA – $8.69 at Costco


Tasting Notes:

Nice deep purple color. Fragrant aromas of fresh herb, flower, blackberries, chocolate and vanilla. Flavors of orange peel, black plum and spice. A firm sense of tannic structure backs it up. A good “every day” red that would pair exceptionally well with meals that satisfy the carnivore in you.


Front label of 2017 Chateau Ste. Michelle, Merlot, Columbia Valley, WA - $8.69 at Costco
Front label of 2017 Chateau Ste. Michelle, Merlot, Columbia Valley, WA – $8.69 at Costco


You could say that this wine has two things that help make it a screaming good value.  The first if the aforementioned transaction. The second is the fact that it is Merlot, which is sadly still discounterd by many wine drinkers.  Pick up a few bottles of this wine at your local Costco and repent.

Long time readers of this Blog (thank you one and all!) may recall that we are long time champions of the high QPR wines that come from this producer, as evidenced by this Thanksgiving post and this post from early Covid.  The latter is some really interesting reading, but I may be biased.


Need More Wine Picks from Costco – or Trader Joe’s Even?

If your wine shopping excursions land you in Costco, prepare by grazing our most recent reviews of Costco wines here in our Lucky 13 list.

And if your shopping finds you at Trader Joe’s, you can find our Lucky 13 list of TJ’s wine here.

Happy hunting.




One comment

  1. I suppose $8.69 for a decent weeknight wine is a good deal nowadays. But not exactly good enough to scream about….
    While we’re on the subject of that mega-winery: my wife and I have found Ch. Ste. Michelle’s Riesling and Gewurztraminer (one of our favorite grapes) to be of only middling quality.
    Find me underwhelmed.

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