The Kirkland Express!! And tBoW Value of the Year…

There was a time decades ago when I shopped at Trader Joes for wine.Dunn-label.gif
I still have the bottles of Dunn Howell cabernets with the $14 stickers and oportos for $15 purchased off the shelf at TJs. Today TJs is a top seller of Toobuckupchuck. As a rule I eschew wines sold in supermarkets. And I support my local wine retailer who does an outstanding job bringing in and putting out super values along with all the trophy wines any “collector” soaked in aftershave could ask for.
For the record, the Dunn Howell cabernets age very very well. Along with Philip Togni wines these are two Napa wines that represent far superior value than the current Speculator touts. Given the choice of spending hundreds for a new release Shry-ing Raptor or a perfectly aged Philip Togni 1990 Cabernet or a 1982 Dunn Howell…no brainer. Two are proven.
Like many good Murrkins I shop at Costco. kirkland-flag.jpg
I am a big buyer (at least in spirit) of all things Kirkland. I even bought a bottle of Kirkland burgundy once (best left unreviewed). Costco established its wine cred by featuring BigTickit wines especially First Growth Bordeaux. However, recently I have found the occasional excellent value of unusual wines I would not expect to see in the Kirkland chain. I tasted two recently and they are reviewed here. So if you love Costco and have a double-executive-wholesale-maxi-rebate-triple-gold membership then you will want to keep your car keys in hand because you will almost certainly be racing out your driveway before you finish reading. And…as always…please…buy Kirkland responsibly.
BrancaiaTre04.jpg2004 Brancaia Tre $15: Bought this at Costco. Also saw it on the web at The Wine Club which is a major discounter so somebody dumped a bunch on the market. Goodie for us because this is very nice wine. Blend is 80% Sangiovese, 10% each Merlot and Cabernet. Brancaia is a highly regarded Italian label. This is their low end, I mean introductory, wine. Soft nose would probably have been more interesting in a larger wine glass. No mistaking the taste. Sangio and cab immediately recognizable. Very little tannins.Excellent and probably best drinking right now. Had it with shrimp linguineRichie-%26-Lou.jpg in red sauce at local Ital dining emporium Giovanni (aka Richie’s). Great wine with a terrific meal. Richie sprays the ball off the tee but he hits it down the middle in his kitchen. Finish is ripe, some prunes but not like an Amarone. I am looking for more now. 13.5%.
2005 Domaine de la Motte Premier Cru Chablis Vauligneau $15: etiquette_chablis_premier_cru_vauligneau_2004.jpg
A friend who likes to surprise me pulled this one out at a home dinner he hosted. While he served several very nice wines, this one stood out. Classic Chablis nose of stones, oak, flint. Green flavors of a youthful wine. Lotsa lime flavors. Strong acidic sharpness that was refreshing. Nicely balanced. Nutmeg emerging. This wine got better in the glass over an hour. I was at Costco the next day and bought half a case. Great value. 13%.
White Knight Clarksburg Viognier $10: White-Knight-label.jpg Now here is an interesting wine. The Large put this one on the table recently and I gotta say it was great to see how this jazz historian/musician has answered the call “no wines over $20”. Dammit. Here is the website link to Don Sebastiani and Sons who apparently make the wine. Before I describe my impressions of the wine I have to point out that Santa Clara U is obviously the choice among California winemakers for providing a college education. All three Sebastiani sons attended as did at least one if not two Mondavis (Michael and the girl). Who knew. Viognier is not the next big grape for me (grenache and mourverdre are). Too many California winemakers treat it like chardonnay with the heavy oak and the ripe fruit. Not here. This is lean and balanced. I will bet steel fermented. I did not get the tropical flavors in the online tasting notes. But I did get the “stone fruit”. At this price it is worth hunting down if you want to try a different style of viognier. Love the screw top. 13.5%.
So where is Clarksburg? Sacramento Delta. This is good news. Last visit to Napa/Sonoma the wife and I “discovered” a region more like Paso than Napa or Sonoma while technically in Napa. Carneros. Please visit Carneros next time you are traveling to Napa. I am going to bet Clarksburg is very similar in rustic nature and the absence of monster chateaus and $40 tasting rooms. Check out the Clarksburg Wine Growers Association and learn more.
cotes04_label.jpg 2004 Tablas Creek Cotes de Tablas $13.40: This is my choice for Wine of the Year. I could change my mind since there are still a couple of months left in 2007. However, when it comes to value and quality this wine is very hard to top.The price is for a case. But why not buy the case? You will easily work through it. You do have to be a wine club member to get this price but you know where I stand there. And let me get this out of the way. Thanks for the Tablas Creek Blog post about this blog. OK. That looks like I am just a pimp for TC. I just think this winery is doing a great job on as many fronts as I can imagine. Solar powered energy. Organic methods. By-the-book nursery of original French vinifera for all the great and lesser known (in some cases unknown) varietals from the Rhone region. And this wine? I think I have reviewed it before. Nose is still a bit smoky and seductive. Flavors are pure grenache (64%) and syrah (16%) fruit. Tannins have settled down. Balance is perfect. This wine is still young. 14.8% which is high but it is Paso and I do not taste the alcohol. Website says two more years. Sure. If I have any left after Turkey Day because this is definitely on my Thanksgiving wine list. Works with lasagna…that’s right…from Costco!!

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