French (Wine) Lessons from Costco – Très Bien at Under Ten!

Fast Facts:

  • 2018 Kirkland Signature Bordeaux Supérieur, Bordeaux, France ($7.99 @Costco in California – Item #1184548)
  • 2017 Gérard Bertrand Tautavel, Côtes du Rousillon Villages, France
    ($9.99 @Costco in California – Item #637442)

 

I think that it’s fair to say that most American wine consumers don’t understand French wine nearly as well as they do the wines from California and the left coast. They lack fluency you could say.

A lot of that is probably due to the fact that we Americans are accustomed to US wineries bottling a disproportionate amount of varietal wines.  These are wines produced from a single grape variety.  Technically, “only” 85% of a bottling must come from said variety to qualify. We like our Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, etc. It’s easy to understand how the wine will taste and whether we are likely to find it satisfying.

It’s not that France doesn’t grow these same grape varieties, of course.  It’s just that it often takes some sleuthing to figure out what’s in their wines. With French wine, understanding where the wine is produced gives you a pretty good idea how it is going to taste, and even some clues as to what grapes went into it. That is true for both of our featured French wines this week from Costco.

If you would like a little geography lesson before we start with your French wine lesson, here is a map to orient yourself.  You will find both regions we are featuring this week in southern France.

Wine map of France. Gigondas is a part of the lower Rhone Valley in the southeastern corner of the country.
Wine map of France showing Bordeaux in the Southwest and Roussillon in the south.

 

About the 2019 Kirkland Signature Bordeaux Supérieur:

This wine is produced by Château Petit-Freylon in Entre-Deux-Mers, a well known Bordeaux wine growing region. The geographical area is situated between the Garonne and Dordogne rivers and the name of the region translates to “between two seas.” Their red wines are built to be drunk young, but I actually think this Kirkland rendition would benefit from a year or two of bottle age. While enjoyable now, it is still a bit tight, closed and tannic, signs that it would likely improve with age. If you can’t wait, decant. I actually enjoyed it more the day after opening.

 

Front label of Kirkland Signature 2018 Bordeaux Superieur
A blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot aged in French oak barrels (no surprise there!) needs some time to breathe and open up.

 

Tasting Notes:

From the bottle: “well-balanced with a core of black currant and plum fruit that shows ample depth with subtle toasted notes for a generous palate of silky tannins.” We found pleasing aromas of dark fruit and baking spices. In the mouth it is smooth and full of flavors of black cherry and toasted baguettes. It’s got a lot of structure for an $8 bottle of wine.

 

Case stacked Kirkland Signature 2018 Bordeaux Superieur at Costco
Stack ’em high and watch ’em fly! Case stacked Kirkland Signature 2018 Bordeaux Superieur at Costco

Is this our favorite Kirkland Signature wine? No, but you get what you pay for and this is a good buy at $8.

 

About the 2017 Gérard Bertrand Tautavel:

Tautavel is an area within the Côtes du Roussillon Villages appellation in Southern France, which is generally regarded as producing the finest red wines in the region. This wine is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan as opposed to the more common GSM blends, which are frequently featured in our posts.

One of the interesting things about Roussillon (which is often simply lumped in with the Languedoc, see map above for proof) is that its inhabitants identify as Catalan (northern Spain is not far as the crow flies) rather than French, and I think you can taste it in this wine, which melds the styles of France and Spain. The result is impressive, and more likely to ring the chimes of fans of new world style wines like those from made here in the Golden State.

 

Gerard Bertrand 2017 Grenache, Syrah and Carignan, or GSC for short
Gerard Bertrand 2017 Grenache, Syrah and Carignan, or GSC for short

 

Tasting Notes:

From the bottle: “Beautiful red color. Elegant notes of ripe fruit (black currant, blackberries) and soft spices. Aromas of wild herbs and leather. Full bodied with soft and round tannins.” We found that the wine poured a medium ruby color with mushrooms and dark fruit on the nose. It is medium bodied and features juicy flavors of plum and blackberry with white pepper and notes of chocolate and French Roast coffee on the finish.

 

Bins of 2017 Gerard Bertrand Grand Terroir Tautavel GSC at Costco. So French, so good.
Bins of 2017 Gerard Bertrand Grand Terroir Tautavel GSC at Costco. So French, so Catalan, so good.

 

It is worth pointing out that Wine Advocate (one of the most respected sources of wine criticism, and especially tuned to French wines) awarded this blend 91 points. That’s a lot of points for $9.99, although it is also worth pointing out that this wine sells for around 50% more at other outlets.

 

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.

 

Cheers!

 

 

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