Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Last Night's Tipple

I really need to stop trolling the interweb looking for reviews of the wine that I buy, especially when the wine I buy is as lacking in snob appeal as that bearing the Kirkland Signature label. It's not that there aren't some excellent resources out there whose reviews are always worth reading. It's just your average Google search will turn up not just links to those excellent resources but also links to garbage written by insufferable snobs that almost assuredly will make me angry. In Googling for this Kirkland Signature wine (2004 GSM from Australia), I found something written by a guy on the Wine Spectator forums asking what people who bought Kirkland Signature wine were thinking. Because, you know, there's no way that it could possibly be anything other than liquified crap and buying any would expose you as a rube and a Philistine. Okay, I might be reading something into what he wrote, but not much.

Let's talk first about the quality that one can expect from a Costco wine. There really is no reason why it shouldn't be decent. There is plenty of good wine available for sale throughout the world, and Costco has the financial wherewithal to buy it and import it into the United States. For the producer, Costco's ability to pay and ability to buy in significant quantities makes it an attractive client. For Costco, their prominence in the wine retailing business must have given them some degree of expertise in selecting decent wines, and their ability to import and distribute wines themselves (in some states) gives them room to undercut comparable wines on price and still have a higher-than-average profit margin. There's every reason to think that the average Kirkland Signature wine is like every other Kirkland Signature product that Costco carries: unlikely to set the world on fire, but probably a quality product and decent value.

But what really made me mad was not the fact that this guy couldn't think through the value proposition that Costco could offer with private-label wine but rather that he came across as an insufferable snob. What matters about a bottle of wine is the quality of the juice in the bottle, not everybody else's perception of the label on it. Yeah, okay, the Kirkland Signature label is cheesy, but who cares if the wine is decent?

Well, is the 2004 GSM (Grenach Shiraz Mourvedre) decent? It is. It's jammy and concentrated, lacking in acid but with a lot of flavor. Grenach, Shiraz (Syrah), and Mourvedre are key components in red wines from the Southern Rhone and in many Australian wines. Well, this tastes nothing like any Southern Rhone that I have ever tasted, but it does taste like an enjoyable, easy-to-drink Australian wine. Which is appropriate because it is trying to be an enjoyable, easy-to-drink Australian wine. I'm not sorry I bought it. I am sorry, however, that I forgot to cap the remainder of the bottle last night, which means that I had to pour it out this morning. Alas!

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