Producer: Kirkland Signature
Region: Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Southern Rhône Valley, France
Grape(s): Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Vaccarése, Counoise and Mourvedré
Price (approximately): $18
This week I make a pitch for Kirkland Signature wines. I have said in the past that Kirkland wines do not customarily bestow significant depth or complexity, nor is that their primary intention. At the price they are offered, that would indeed be a lofty expectation. While the occasional Kirkland label can come with surprising quality, these wines are better understood as providing an affordable entry to many classic wine regions around the world. They are excellent for this purpose, so please explore! Keep in mind, however, that to experience the best of a region, you must journey beyond the Kirkland empire.
Nonetheless, it is really incredible that Kirkland has this offering (and other expensive regions as well, such as Brunello and Bordeaux). At $17.99, it would be extraordinarily difficult to explore Châteauneuf-du-Pape - one of my favorite regions in France. Kirkland gives you that chance. So, if you haven't yet explored this region, take the opportunity!
The wine is ruby in color and medium bodied with smooth tannins. On the palate, predominantly red fruit (cherry, strawberry), licorice, and some subtle spice, floral and herbal notes. It is surprisingly thin for a Châteauneuf, and rather straightforward and one-dimensional. At it's price point, it would be unfair to expect much more.
Tip: let the wine decant for at least 30 minutes prior to consumption. It can feel a little tight at first, but the wine opens nicely with time to display more of the red fruit and licorice expected from the region.
If you have never had a Châteauneuf, you should definitely pick up a bottle; it is a good introduction to the region and style. Just remember that Châteauneuf-du-Pape has much more to offer. If, like me, you love Châteauneuf, but don't always want to spend $40 (or more) on a bottle, this would be a more cost-effective (albeit less complex) alternative.