The Two Most Popular Wine Varieties in the US – via Costco

Fast Facts:

  • 2019 Kirkland Signature Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, Washington ($8.99 @Costco in California – Item #1226845)
  • 2019 Kirkland Signature Chardonnay,  Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California ($12.99 @Costco in California – Item #789895)

 

What were the two most popular wine varieties sold in the US in 2020?  That’s easy.  Cabernet Sauvignon and – not far behind – Chardonnay at #2. The next red and white wines (red blends and Pinot Grigio respectively) sell one-third less than the those in the top 2 spots.

Interestingly, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are also the top red and white wine varieties in the world, although it may surprise you to learn that after Merlot, Tempranillo is the #3 red wine in the world. It surprised me.

In some ways, this popularity actually makes it more difficult to find really high QPR wines that are “Cab” or “Chard” based. That’s classic supply and demand.  The demand is high, so the prices follow. Conversely, you get producers scrambling to make inexpensive renditions, often with a predictable decline in quality.

These two Kirkland Signature wines defy the odds. Both are delicious and exhibit very high QPR. But it helps that they are coming from the largest wine retailer in the United States…Costco.  Can you say: “buying power?”

This buying power is evidenced by the fact that despite their popularity and a very inflationary wine market, the prices on these to wines have not budged since we reviewed the Kirkland Signature Russian River 2018 Chardonnay and the prior vintage of their Kirkland Signature Columbia Valley Cabernet.

Same price.  Same juice, for the most part. But what has changed in both cases are the labels. Both bottlings have undergone what we refer to in the wine trade as a “brand refresh.”   Let us know which ones you like better.

 

About the Cabernet Sauvignon:

There is a sharp difference between the climates of eastern and western Washington state. When most people think of weather in the state, they think of the cool, damp dank of Seattle. Thankfully, there is not much wine produced there in the west.

In viticultural terms, eastern Washington (which is far drier and warmer) is far more conducive to making great wine, the lion’s share of which is produced in the 11 million acre Columbia Valley. This wine is a pretty good representation of the area, although truth be told, there is more Merlot planted there than Cab.

 

Front label of bottle of Kirkland Signature 2019 Columbia Valley (Washington) Cabernet Sauvignon
Lovely new label graces the bottle of Kirkland Signature 2019 Columbia Valley (Washington) Cabernet Sauvignon

 

Tasting Notes:

The wine pours a deep ruby color.  Nice notes of dark fruit and blackberry on the nose. In the mouth are flavors of hooded berries, mocha and – thanks to its oak regimen – some vanilla and baking spice.  It’s fruity and medium-bodied with shy tannins on the finish.

 

Display of Kirkland Signature 2019 Columbia Valley (Washington) Cabernet Sauvignon
A wine to buy – by the case.

 

About the Chardonnay:

In her encyclopedic The Oxford Companion to Wine, author Jancis Robinson refers to Sonoma’s Russian River Valley as a “high quality California wine region and AVA west of Healdsburg along that portion of river that meanders through the hills of northern Sonoma County toward its mouth.”

Here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson!

That mouth that she refers to is where the river empties into the Pacific Ocean in the town of Jenner.  If you have never explored the Russian River Valley (or Healdsburg and Jenner for that matter) put those on your list of places to see ASAP.

Thanks to the moderating influences of the river, and its opening to the ocean, the Russian River Valley is a world class producer of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  That the area is also a world class producer of cheese and fine dining options is a nice bonus when you arrive as a wine pilgrim.

 

Front label of bottle of Kirkland Signature 2019 Russian River Valley (Sonoma County) Chardonnay
Front label of bottle of Kirkland Signature 2019 Russian River Valley (Sonoma County) Chardonnay

 

Tasting Notes:

From the bottle: “…bright aromas of lemon blossom, citrus and stone fruit. The elegant and layered expression…is focused around flavors of green apple, pear and fig while French oak gives the wine exotic spice notes and a long lingering finish.” We found this description accurate but would add that we detected notes of vanilla and butter. It’s medium-bodied and strikes a nice balance between the competing popular styles of buttery and acidic.

 

Display of bottles of Kirkland Signature 2019 Russian River Valley (Sonoma County) Chardonnay at Costco

Display of bottles of Kirkland Signature 2019 Russian River Valley (Sonoma County) Chardonnay at Costco

 

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!

 

 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.