kirklandRedHow can you tell a good wine from an excellent wine?  One of our tests is to take them on a marathon and see how they perform.   In this case, we ran with two Kirkland Signature wines: the 2012 Signature Merlot and Columbia Valley Red  (which is pretty close to Bordeaux blend, with cabernet, merlot and syrah anchoring the blend).    The course was four days long.  We had reviewed the Merlot in 2014 and we knew it was a decent competitor to the slightly higher priced Columbia Valley Red.

Costco’s Signature Series wines can generally be relied upon to be decent values.   The Costco wine buyers are savvy and knowledgeable, so you aren’t likely to get a bad bottle.  More likely, you’ll get a decent value.   The clear winner in this competition was the Columbia Valley Red.   Initially, it started with some pepper and anise combined with cherry and blackberry fruit overtones along with some interesting depth that was missing from the Merlot.  It finished with some nice oakiness.   But the second and third day, this wine continued to evolve with a bit more leather and a longer, smoother finish.   By the four day, it was still running at full speed with lots of richness and fruit and not a hint of exhaustion.    In contrast, its running partner Merlot hit its stride on the second day, but never got very interesting.  By Day Four, it tasted tired and just plain tuckered out.

The Columbia Red wine is said to be produced at Dolan & Weiss Cellars, Walla Walla, Washington by winemaker is Gilles Nicault.  The 15 months aging in French oak shows – this is a very smooth, polished performer.   At $15, (the cost of the Merlot)  it would have been a gold or silver medalist at the Wine Olympics.  At $19, it compares favorably to wines twice its price but is closer to a bronze medalist.   Grab a few bottles to use when you are looking for a red blend that is not a sprinter, but will bring some excellent tasting pleasure over a longer distance of days.

Price at Costco: $18.99