The StoryThe Kirkland Napa Valley Red Blend 2016 is a $10.99 Costco exclusive, a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec. That mix of grapes is a Bordeaux Blend and in California is referred to as a Meritage Blend. There is a Meritage organization that promotes and helps develop these grapes and wineries using the Meritage name on the label pay a license fee and comply with a set of rules and regulations. Since this is a value-priced wine it makes sense that they would skip the licensing. Costco names the winemaker on the back label, Glen Hugo. He makes his own wines and is part of the winemaking team for Vintage Wine Estates. The winery shown on the label is DC Flynt MW Selections who are responsible for many Kirkland wines both import and domestic.Most contract wines don't spend money on things like fancy labels and tasting and technical notes, which is fine with me, it keeps costs down. But some of the information needed to make a knowledgable wine selection is missing. You have to make do with a low price and what you can glean from what info is available. And with Kirkland Napa Red I would say the fact that this is a 2016 vintage is a good sign. While this isn't exactly scientific a Red blend made to sell for around ten bucks is most likely a 2017 vintage, they make the wine to come together as quick as possible so they can sell it sooner. A Red blend that lists in the twenty dollar range usually will have an extra year of aging. The rule of thumb and there are variables so this isn't exact are 1-year aging in barrel needs 1-year aging in bottle. The extra time adds to the price and the wine is produced to take advantage of the additional aging. So it seems this $10.99 Bordeaux-style blend has production techniques closer to a $20 Red. The alcohol content is a very California 14.5%.The Tasting NotesThe color is a see-thru cherry jelly red with black highlights. The nose is dark berries, baking spice, nutmeg, chocolate, vanilla, a hint of smoke, and ripe blackberry. This is a Red blend that starts smooth, then has some rustic edges, the flavors have excellent length, they go on and on. It tastes of blackberry and black licorice (I know for wine tasting descriptors all licorice is black licorice, but I grew up on Twizzlers licorice and the red ones were awesome), chocolate powder, pepper, and spice. The mid-palate shows a slight pull from the tannins (in a Bordeaux blend that is a welcome feature), tart cherry, orange zest, and blueberry. The acidity is well-controlled and the finish is respectably full and lengthy.The Summary * The Kirkland Napa Valley Red Blend 2016 is a pretty decent Bordeaux Blend, it definitely hits above its price point. * Balanced, full-flavored, solid structure, it does not hide the tannins and any rough edges are a welcome part of the flavor profile. * This is an easy to drink wine in the best sense of the term, it has lip-smacking acidity that compels to reach for another sip.
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