- 2016 Kirkland Sonoma County Chardonnay ($6.99 @Costco, California)
Let me address something right out of the gate…
I recognize that we review no small number of Kirkland branded wines here. And I know that some of us, myself included, are reluctant to bring them out at social occasions for fear of appearing unsophisticated, ignorant or cheap. That said, since starting this blog (focused mainly on “exceptional wine values”) I have learned that the best values at your friendly neighborhood Costco tend to be either imports, or wines that prominently display the Kirkland name on the label.
That’s not to say that in those Costco bins of branded wine bottles you won’t find values, but rarely will they slip under our target price of $10 per 750ml bottle. This is especially true of red wines, which (as a general rule) are more expensive to produce.
With that out of the way, ready to take a trip with me?
Great, let’s go!
You’re at a tasting room in Sonoma Square, the city in the heart of the wine region bearing the same name. You duck into a winery tasting room to escape the 90+ degree midday heat and they pour you a taste of a Chardonnay that is perfectly chilled, maybe even on the cold side. Condensation forms on your glass, like on the wine bottle pictured above. You sip, and discover that instead of being a big ole butter bomb, this wine is restrained, elegant and with a crisp minerality. It’s refreshing! You might like it so much that you spring for three bottles at a mere $19 each.
What if I told you that you could buy three bottles of equally good Sonoma Chardonnay for nearly the same prices as that hypothetical bottle? Well, this is that wine. This $6.99 Kirkland Sonoma County Chardonnay is a bright, ripe (but not overly ripe) and elegant wine. A noseful of lush tropical fruits yields to flavors of apple, pear and citrus.
Chardonnay styles run the spectrum from austere to opulent. The ones that spend a monastic life in stainless steel vessels retain the more pure varietal qualities of the Chardonnay grape. Those that have lived a pampered life being aged in oak casks – and quite possibly fermented in oak – take on flavors of vanilla, baking spices, and butterscotch. Yep, those rich flavors are not from the fruit as much as they are derived from the winemaking and aging regimens applied after crush.
This wine is surely a blend of different lots from along the entire spectrum. The net effect is a pleasant melange of styles that lands it somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. It’s more Burgundian than Californian, but capable of satisfying Chardonnay lovers of all stripes. And being on the lighter, less buttery side, it is a wine that is refreshing enough to serve throughout the hot summer ahead.
In short, we liked it. But we’d love to know what you think after you taste this wine in the safety of your own home, away from the prying and judgemental eyes of your wine geek friends. Simply give us your assessment via our Contact Us page. Let’s start a conversation!