- 2018 Kirkland Signature Premier Cru Chablis, Burgundy, France $19.99 (@Costco, California, Item# 1043144)
- 2018 Kirkland Signature Series Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford, Napa, California $18.99 (@Costco, California, Item# 1265184)
Happy New Year friends!
In the strangest of years, we have made it to the doorstep of 2021. That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger indeed.
You might expect that we would be featuring a sparkling wine with it being New Year’s Eve and all. But that would be so boringly predictable. Not to mention that we reviewed a sparkling wine just last week in our penultimate Thirsty Thursday post of 2020. Plus you know the saying “man doesn’t live on Champagne alone” or something like that.
In more normal years, you might be entertaining (or being entertained by) a large group of friends and family. And you might be reticent to bring a bottle – or two – of Kirkland Signature wines. It’s not that they are not good and highly drinkable, it’s just that they are unabashedly – from Costco!
But if you are enjoying a quiet night at home with or without a significant other, perhaps you can get away with these two delicious and high QPR wines that are in my local Costco right now. If you are entertaining a small group – no judgement! – you could always decant them and just introduce them as a “modest Chablis” and/or”one of the best Cab values you have tasted from Rutherford in Napa”. Both would be true in our opinion.
Let’s start with the Chablis:
Chablis is the steely, dry white wine made in the northernmost vineyards of the Burgundy region of France. And like all fine white Burgundies, it is made from Chardonnay grapes. But if you are not familiar with fine Chablis, don’t expect it to taste like New World Chardonnays made in places like California.
The appellation of Chablis consists of 7,500 acres surrounding the small town of, wait for it, Chablis. Created in 1938, it has four ranks, the top most of which is grand cru Chablis. Wines like this one bottled under the Kirkland Signature brand – being premier cru – are just one notch below that.
Chablis is actually a bit separated from the rest of Burgundy. So much so that the “heart” of Burgundy, Beaune, is over 60 miles to the south. The vineyards of Chablis are actually closer to those of Champagne. That explains a lot. Both are crisp and mineral driven due to a history of grapes that could not achieve anywhere near the ripeness levels we enjoy here in California. As climate change warms the region, new fleshier flavors emerge, but as we said already, you are not going to confuse this wine with a California Chardonnay.
Typical wet stone aromas, along with notes of citrus, cloves and ripe pears. Dry and medium bodied with flavors of lemon, pear and green apples on the palate. Nice acidity and minerality to cleanse and refresh the palate. Would pair well with fatty flavors like white cream sauces, risotto and soft cheeses, although potato chips would be pretty yummy too.
Now on to the Cab:
If the Napa Valley is synonymous with Cabernet Sauvignon – and it deservedly is – then its Rutherford District is known for some of the finer expressions of said grape. It is also uniquely known for a quality in the wines known as “Rutherford Dust”.
Some mystery still surrounds the term “Rutherford Dust” and its creator. That said, in his book “Private Reserve” about the history of Rutherford’s iconic Beaulieu Vineyards, writer Rod Smith recounts the first time André Tchelistcheff tasted the 1936 Beaulieu Cabernet Sauvignon (which later became the first vintage of the winery’s Georges de Latour Private Reserve bottling). He writes, “The most intriguing thing about the wine was a whiff of clean dirt with a high-toned note something like pencil shavings. André recognized it as the expression of a distinctive terroir—the very fragrance of Rutherford. To describe it, he would later coin the term ‘Rutherford dust’.”
The 6,000 acre Rutherford District of Napa Valley is perhaps the single best-known Cabernet Sauvignon growing area in California. Incredibly, the Rutherford District American Viticultural Area (AVA) was only established in 1993, nearly 60 years after the aforementioned 1936 vintage that helped put the area on the California wine map.
Medium body, beautiful ruby color. Dark fruits on the nose. Cherry, blueberry, and a touch of bramble in the mouth along with notes of mocha powder. Soft dusty tannins on the finish. Would pair really well with grilled meats, game and hard mature cheeses.
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.
Stay safe and healthy everyone, we need you here in 2021.