Kirkland Signature 2010 Columbia Valley red wine

What is the problem with our local wine bloggers’ denial of Washington wines made under the Costco ‘Kirkland Signature’ label? Costco is known for value, as opposed to Nordstrom is known for high-fashion quality and taking out a second mortgage to get that blingy pair of shoes. Oh yeah! That’s right… Costco doesn’t give away samples to low-life scumbags posing as knowledgeable wine writers! A wine blogger has to actually pay-to-play with real money and that eliminates everyone around latitude 47 except yours truly.

Let’s establish an agreement here… Costco’s house brand wines are generally reliable in delivering what is labeled. When a consumer sees a “Napa Valley”-labeled wine, he/she can reasonably expect a wine that will deliver a satisfying experience for the money, unlike those eighty-dollar fiascos at some wine boutiques. Who can we thank for this return-on-investment? Why, that would be Costco’s director of national wine, spirits, and beer program: Annette DeLeon Alvarez-Peters, 51, of Sammamish, WA.

Annette is widely recognized as the nation’s most financially-influential wine buyer (over $2.4 BILLION/year for all alcoholic beverages) as it makes sense since Costco is the nation’s (if not the world’s) number one purveyor of wine. Typical of Costco and their down-to-earth presentation, Mrs. Alvarez-Peters holds the humble title of “Assistant General Merchandise Manager” within this Fortune 500 company, quite unlike the low-lifes who hyperboast of joining Wine Enthusiast when he’s a blind-tasting setup lackey, or a self-proclaimed bitch “professor of English” despite skating by to a weak degree from a second-tier in-state college. What’s so hilarious about her is she considers wine no different than her previous title as a buyer of auto parts. She professes, “…at the end of the day, it’s just a beverage.” Hear, hear! As a follow-up, everyone in Costco’s wine program is at least certified as WSET Level 2, so it’s not like they each have the non-skilled wine-tasting level of a wine blogger. (Has anyone ever bothered to ask Sean what his WSET Level attainment is?)

Of note, while Costco sells wines from $5 to well over $600, Mrs. Alvarez-Peters insists the “sweet spot” is within the $7-$15 price range. But, here’s where it is revealed why wine bloggers lack the fancy for Costco wines: “Eighty percent (of our members) own their own home… the average income is $96,800 but 41% of our members have a household income of over $100,000.” Also, going back, think about it… you go into a Costco and their wine section sits far in the back, near the refrigerated meats/cheeses/seafood section, occupying maybe a total of 500 square feet, at best, and yet, they move over 1 BILLION dollars of wine every year. And, while I’m gnawing on my buck-fifty hot dog and Pepsi, all I see in those mega-shopping carts are magnums of Columbia Crest or those cheaper boxed wines. So, while you may find a rare Sauternes or Leonetti Cellar for sale, what makes Costco so profitable in the wine section are the cheap, bulk wines that go into well-fed homes throughout America. Think about that the next time you read a faux-hipster wine blog that only toots high-priced wines…

Tasted at 63-66 degrees on the IR temp gun. Neonatal purple to deep magenta in the Riedel with heady aromas of brambly fruits, plum, smoky cedar, and boysenberry leading to a full-bodied sensation and a surprisingly extended residence on the palate expressing pungent endeavors of black plum, black cherry, black licorice, nettle, menthol, cedar, and gritty spices. Exciting!

Alcohol: 14.6%. Cabernet sauvignon, syrah, merlot, cabernet franc, and petit verdot. Columbia Valley AVA. Winemaker: Gilles Nicault of Long Shadows fame. Produced and bottled by Dolan & Weiss Cellars (Walla Walla). Power: 3/5. Balance: 2/5. Depth: 3/5. Finesse: 3/5. Rated: 91. Value: $30. Paid: $18.89. Music pairing: “I Love It” by Icona Pop. This is WAwineman… uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

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