Alexander Valley

Kirkland Signature, Merlot, Alexander Valley 2008

by Tim Elliott on February 9, 2011

Kirkland Signature, Merlot, Alexander Valley 2008

Photo from the Costco Wine Blog

We all need mid-week wines that deliver interesting flavor without spending a lot of money. The problem is that many widely available wines under $10 are just not that exciting. So I often look for less popular varieties from countries like Spain and Portugal for my “Tuesday-Thursday” wines.

But there is a lot of good wine on the California bulk market these days so sometimes the big-box retailers like Costco and Sam’s Club have some values. And depending on where you live, you don’t even need a club membership to buy these wines; at least, that’s the law here in Minnesota. I usually shop at Costco so I picked up this store brand Merlot a few weeks back for $8.99. Alexander Valley produces a number of nice Merlot and Cabernet-based wines so I thought this was worth a flyer. Worst case, I have some wine to cook with.

Costco used to be the domain of Cameron Hughes but over the past couple of years I’ve noticed his wines mostly available at Sam’s Club. As his selections sold through at Costco, the store brand Kirkland seemed to replace those wines along with the normal selection of well chosen wines at very good prices. In fact, Costco might just be the best place to find wine values in the $25-60 range. And based on this selection, they might have the under $10 market covered, too.

Tasting Notes:

Kirkland Signature, Merlot, Alexander Valley 2008 ($9) – Garnet color with aromas of blackcurrant, black cherry, black licorice and cedar. Rich black cherry fruit flavors with blackcurrant, black pepper and mint finishing with moderate tannins. Drink over the next year or two.

14.5% ABV
Natural cork closure
Rating: ★★★½☆
Score: 87

Rodney Strong, "Symmetry", Meritage 2007

For a long time now the Rodney Strong brand has stood for value regularly over delivering in their price category. Whether it’s their entry $18 Cabernet or their single-vineyard, allocated Rockaway bottling, when you see Rodney Strong on the label you can be assured you will get some thing interesting in the glass. The house style is to create round and harmonious wines with loads of sweet fruit surrounded by toasty French oak.

Their “Symmetry” Meritage is a Cabernet Sauvignon led wine that could have been labeled as this variety since it makes up 85% of the blend. But the winemaking team is aiming higher here producing a Bordeaux style blend from several vineyard sources in Sonoma’s Alexander Valley. The addition of traditional blending grapes Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot adds to the complexity in the aromas and flavors, elevating what would be a very nice Cabernet to another level. My only concern was the rather generous French oak treatment which will likely work itself out with further aging.

Tasting Notes:

Rodney Strong, “Symmetry”, Meritage Red Wine, Alexander Valley 2007 ($55/sample) –  A blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Malbec, 3% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Very deep purple in color with complex aromas of blackberry, blackcurrant, cigar box, sage and black licorice. Bold and rich blackcurrant and blackberry flavors with cassis and black pepper finishing with toasty oak and firm tannins. Decant for 2-3 hours now or put in the cellar for 5-7 years. Delicious, if a bit over-oaked, at this point but I expect this to integrate as it ages.

15.1% ABV
Natural cork closure
Score: 91
Rating: ★★★★☆

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