- 2018 Kirkland Signature Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California $12.99 (@Costco; California, Item# 789895)
- 2018 Kirkland Signature Pinot Noir, Carneros, Napa Valley $9.99 (@Costco; California, Item # 505074)
Wine regions that produce really good Chardonnay tend to be really favorable for Pinot Noir as well, and vice versa. As we so often point out here, improving your odds of choosing well when you make your wine purchase decisions is about choosing the right grapes, from the right places. The Russian River Valley and Carneros are “the right places” for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Chardonnay: The wine pours a lovely golden hue with lemon, white flowers and wet stone on the nose. Flavors of pear, green apple, and vanilla lead to a creamy butterscotch finish. This wine succeeds at being not too buttery, too oaky, or too sweet. It is, in a word, balanced. It is simple, fruity and with a bright acidity that makes it a refreshing summer Chard.
Pinot Noir: This wine has a lot of juicy cherry, raspberry, and cranberry flavors with earthy aromas of leather, pepper and mushroom. Medium-bodied and with a moderate vanilla finish, it might pass for a wine closer to $20 a bottle. It is best enjoyed at cellar temperature – 57 degrees, or achieved by camping it in your “ice box” for 20 minutes before serving.
Stylistically, I found these wines similar. Both are restrained, middle of the road renditions that would pair really well with food. I also found that the Pinot improved noticeably after a couple of hours of opening.
Foggy and cool, Carneros and the Russian River Valley (inland and therfor somewhat less cool than Carneros) are two of the most famous Pinot Noir and Chardonnay appellations in the world. But not quite as famous as the appellation in France that put these two grape varieties on the world wine stage. I am talking of course, about Burgundy.
The great white wines of Burgundy are crafted from the Chardonnay grape, and the reds from Pinot Noir. The difference between California and France – nine time zones aside – is one of latitude. Latitude is a significant factor in the level of ripeness that the wine grapes can achieve. The Burgundian versions of these two varietals, although they have softened in more recent years (as the region has warmed and wine making techniques have modernized) are less ripe. They are more earthy and austere examples of “Old World” wines. Their “New World” counterparts are more fleshy, ripe and, well, fruity. That is what more sunshine and a longer growing season do for wine grapes.
Not so long ago you may recall we reviewed another $12.99 Chardonnay from Costco and Carneros. There was also this one from Trader Joe’s, also from Carneros. We also reviewed the 2017 bottling of the Kirkland Signature Russian River Valley Chardonnay, and are pleased to report that the price hasn’t budged and the quality is similarly good.
One more these two featured wines have in common is a really great price point. You know how much we love solid wine values that slip under the $10 price point. The KS Pinot is $9.99 here in California, and the Chardonnay is a few bucks higher at $12.99.
Why buy a $20 bottle of wine when you could pay roughly the same for this pair of winners? Your friends will never guess you paid around $10 a bottle, especially if you don’t SHOW them the bottles with the Kirkland label. Simply pour them a glass, or two.