Costco's private label wines are great for a number of reasons, but in my opinion it allows you to experiment and try something new with the comfort and security of knowing you have the Kirkland brand behind it.
The Kirkland Brand: As someone who shops a lot at Costco, I've come to trust the Kirkland Brand. Now this isn't like most private label brands that you'll find at other stores. Typically private labels compete on price and therefore are on the low end. Kirkland competes on quality not price and you'll find that across their entire product line. It's no different for their wine. The price points will normally between $12 and $30 for a bottle, which is a far cry from the Two Buck Chuck that you'll find at Trader Joes. The Current Wine Industry: Over the past 10 years or so, wine production has blowing up. More vines, more grapes, more labels, and overall higher quality in wine production. As the economy slowed during 2008, consumers reduced their spending on higher priced bottles of wine. The grapes were still being harvested, but wine makers have found themselves with more juice than they can sell, especially with the higher priced bottles. So they make less of the high priced bottles because they don't want to destroy the brand they built around that specific label. But then what do they do with all the grapes that they aren't bottling? Well, they move them down into a lower priced label. And so on and so on. So at the end of the day, you have much better juice ending up in lower priced labels... much better wine a cheaper prices. (I'd love to get some comments about my brief industry analysis from some of Lunch's wine experts like Shayne; bikrdave; Jon_Wollenhaupt and CuveeCorner)
Costco as a wine seller: Costco is the largest wine retailer in the country.
Conclusion: Add all of this up and what do you get. Well, if you have a lot of great grapes able to be purchased for cheap, and you have a trusted well known brand like Kirkland, and you have the largest distribution channel for wine in Costco... you get an AMAZING OPPORTUNITY TO TRY SOME NEW WINE.
The Kicker: Their wine is actually really good. It has all of the characteristics of the type wine it is... i describe it as "right down the middle of the fairway". Now, it's not great, but it's not aiming to be. Too be great a wine needs to push the envelope a bit. Kirkland doesn't try anything fancy... It's just really good. It will give you a perfect perspective of what that type of wine is supposed to taste like which isn't always the case. For example, if you go and try some small production Malbec from some unknown Spanish producer, there is a good chance that it will have some characteristics that aren't true to all Malbecs. That doesn't happen with Kirkland wine, or at least not what I've tried so far. I'm not recommending that you serve it at a dinner party (although I've served their '02 Rutherford Cab and it was great), but i do think that when you want to venture out, try something new, spend a little more than you might otherwise, it's a great, fun option. Also, knowing that the juice you're drinking would probably be priced at least double if it didn't have the Kirkland label on it, somehow makes it taste a little better.
This review in response to JR's review "Great Opportunity to Try Something New". Essentially Costco has put an American twist on the tried and true negociants in Burgundy. What Jadot, Louis Latour and Joseph Drouhin have perfected in Burgundy, Costco in doing here. In the Burgundian model the negociants will not only buy bulk wine form other suppliers but also grapes and make and blend the wine themselves. Make no mistake, Costco is not making … more
Like most Kirkland (Costco) products, their wines are high quaity at a very reasonable price. I haven't been disappointed with any Kirkland wine I've tried. They seem to be continually trying to find new, good grapes and wine, which resuls in an ever-changing lineup of wines from around the world. Here's an exmaple of some of the Costco wines I"ve sampled (and enjoyed) over the past few years: a great Pinot from Central Otago, New Zealand that I loved (I'm a … more