- 2020 Kirkland Signature Toscana IGT, Italy ($13.99 @Costco; California – Product #1181768)
Tuscany is arguably the most important region in central Italy, where it is known as Toscana.
Our reviews of this “Super Tuscan” wine date back to the 2016 vintage. Somewhat incredibly, it was $13.99 then too. Although the price drifted up to $14.99 a few years ago, it has come back down to 2016 levels. It remains one of our perennial favorites bottled under the Kirkland Signature label. But it depletes quickly, so do what I am going to do: stock up!
We talk a lot about reading “clues” from a wine’s front and back labels, and this one contains several positive indications of high quality:
The front label lets you know this is an IGT wine (Indicazione Geograhic Tipica) and – more importantly – is “Estate Bottled and Cellared”. The former was created to allow winemakers to “color outside the lines” of traditional Italian rules by allowing the inclusion of French wine varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon to the blend, and which gave birth to “Super Tuscan” bottlings. The latter means that the production process was confined to a single wine estate as opposed to an massive blending cooperative. Co-ops are capable of producing some good high QPR wines But the saying “good is the enemy of great” applies.
The back label divulges that the vineyards of this estate are located in coastal Tuscany overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea. This is the high rent district and the area where many of the most sought after “Super Tuscans” come from. Another box checked…
Some of the most famous – and costly – wines in the world are produced here in the coastal vineyards of Tuscany . The famed wines of Tiganello, Ornellaia, and Sassicaia routinely fetch hundreds of dollars a bottle. A unique geography distinguishes this wine growing region. Instead of sunlight, natives speak of “luminosity”.
Thanks to the nearby Tyrrhenian Sea, daylight reflects off the water in the same way that a white umbrella diffuses light in studio photography. Because the elevation rises so gradually—from sea level to a gentle 300 meters—that glowing luminosity washes over the entire region, and the wine grapes it produces.
The coast sees hot summer days and cool nights, and that drop in temperature helps maintain aromatic freshness in the wines. There is also an herbal, Mediterranean quality to the wines that recalls the wild shrubs, or macchia, that blanket the surrounding hills. The French would refer to it as garrique and it is often in tasting notes for red Rhone wines.
Wine runs deep in Tuscany, aka, Toscana. Like the art of the Renaissance, it is tightly woven into the cultural identity of this central Italian region. But up until recently, the wines of Tuscany and Chianti were required to be made predominantly of Sangiovese. That was until some young turks came along in the 1970’s and insisted on blending in varities like the aforementioned Cabernet Sauvignon, but also Syrah and Merlot. The lawmakers in Italy eventually cried “Uncle”, formed the IGT designation to save face and the rest, as they say, is history. Surprisingly recent history for the “old world”.
Alas, the exact blend of this particular wine remains a secret. But in past years is has been comprised of Sangiovese with (non-indigenous varieties) Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Once poured, the wine entices with aromas of toasted vanilla, black cherry, baking spices, chocolate covered cherries and herbs. As is typical for Sangiovese, this is a delicate red wine, showcasing rich flavors of wild herbs, ripe cherry and raspberries. The wine is very well balanced on the palate, with a nice long finish. There are firm tannins, fruity notes and a velvety smooth finish with chocolate covered cherry and coffee flavors. The wine is delicious right after opening, but improves with a bit of time so consider rewarding yourself by letting it breathe a bit. Would pair really well with grilled meats and tomato based dishes such as pizza, pasta and risotto. Ranks among the best vintages we have tasted.
This is a wine to buy in bulk as it’s a seasonal item. It typically hits store shelves in the autumn, so maybe it will deplete a little more slowly in the summer months, but I wouldn’t bet on it. If you’re lucky enough to find it in your local Costco, it won’t be there for long. And if you do try it (or find another wine you think we should know about) please let us know in the comments section.
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.