Here are the best Costco wine bargains for the 2022 holiday season

Tan Vinh and Owen Bargreen | (TNS) The Seattle Times

Welcome to the 2022 edition of our annual holiday season guide to the best Costco wine deals.

This is our largest Costco wine roundup to date, 23 bottles, with about half earning a “highly recommended” grade from either Owen Bargreen, a Level Two sommelier, or myself.

As usual, we’ve made the ranking reader-friendly, grading each bottle “highly recommended,” “recommended” or “not recommended.”

This roundup is a touchy subject for some readers who feel we should not be reviewing a “big-box chain” when Washington boasts more than 1,000 wineries. But know that 90% of the wine reviews that run in The Seattle Times are focused on Washington and Northwest wines.

Here’s our review of this year’s selection below.

Kirkland Signature Asolo Prosecco. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times/TNS)

Kirkland Signature Asolo Prosecco, 11% alcohol, $7.99

Owen: Sourced from vineyards across Veneto, this prosecco shows a green hue with layers of white peach, mango and sweet brioche on the palate. This is just as good as La Marca Prosecco but is only half the price. Best between now to 2024.

Verdict: Highly recommended

Tan: It goes down easy because it’s so fruity, like a wine cooler, circa 1987. It’s also low enough in alcohol that I could down a couple bottles of this while bingeing on HBO’s “The White Lotus.” (Why is Portia still in Jack’s car? Run, Portia, run.)

Verdict: Highly recommended

Kirkland Signature Prosecco Rosé. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times/TNS)

Kirkland Signature Prosecco Rosé, 11% alcohol, $7.99

Owen: Some cherry, cranberry and salted sourdough bread. It’s a touch sweet but shows a pretty core of red fruit flavors. Drink 2022-25.

Verdict: Highly recommended

Tan: You can find good prosecco under $15, but it’s damn near impossible to find a prosecco rosé this good in this price range. Costco raised their prosecco rosé by $1 this year, but it’s still a steal.

Verdict: Highly recommended

Kirkland Signature Brut Champagne. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times/TNS)

Kirkland Signature Brut Champagne, 12% alcohol, $19.99

Owen: The Champagne comes from Jannison, which is a grand cru site located in Verzenay, France. This brut is a proprietary blend of pinot Meunier, pinot noir and chardonnay. The nose shows nice, musty aromas with hazelnuts, pear and star fruit. Drink 2022-27.

Verdict: Highly recommended

Tan: This has consistently been one of our top-rated Costco wines in the last five years. I’ve blind-tasted this $19.99 bottle against other bottles that were in the $40-$50 range, and this Champagne was just as good as the higher priced bottles.

Verdict: Highly recommended

2021 Kirkland Signature Grave Pinot Grigio. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times/TNS)

2021 Kirkland Signature Friuli Grave Pinot Grigio, 12.5% alcohol, $5.49

Owen: This offers little in flavor with wet stone, white grapefruit pit and suggestions of hay and green apple — but drinkable for under six bucks. Drink 2022-24.

Verdict: Recommended

Tan: A tad cloying for me. You can find better grigios at Grocery Outlet in this price range.

Verdict: Not recommended

2021 Kirkland Signature California Pinot Grigio. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times/TNS)

2021 Kirkland Signature California Pinot Grigio, 12% alcohol, 3-liter box for $12.99

Owen: Lemon Starburst aromas combine with shades of French bread and papaya notes on the nose. This is soft and shows a nice underlying acidity, considering the price point. It’s a touch on the sweet side, but you can’t find a better boxed white at this price. Drink 2022-24.

Verdict: Recommended

Tan: The better deal of the two grigios, this boxed wine is the equivalent of four 750-milliliter bottles, and it held up well five days later in my fridge. The best boxed wine in our tasting, this is a good patio sipper with melon and tropical fruits to balance the grapefruit bitters with some mineral on the finish.

Verdict: Highly recommended

2022 Kirkland Signature Marlborough Ti Point Sauvignon Blanc. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times/TNS)

2022 Kirkland Signature Marlborough Ti Point Sauvignon Blanc, 12.5% alcohol, $7.49

Owen: Fresh and vibrant on the palate, this shows unripe pear, green apple Jolly Rancher and jalapeño pepper. I think this offers a bit more than the last vintage in terms of texture. There might not be a New Zealand sav blanc this good for under 10 bucks, so buy a case and enjoy when the weather is less frigid. Drink 2022-24.

Verdict: Highly recommended

Tan: In years past, this has been one of my favorite whites at Costco. Not so this year. It’s missing that bright, lemon-lime Sprite flavor, and instead of the earthy, flinty notes, it’s more apple sour on the finish. But I agree Owen; you can’t find a better bottle in this price range.

Verdict: Recommended

2021 Kirkland Signature California Chardonnay. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times/TNS)

2021 Kirkland Signature California Chardonnay, 13.5% alcohol, 3-liter box for $13.99

Tan: I don’t get why this boxed wine has such a huge following. I’ve seen this wine at many summer picnics and potlucks.

Verdict: Not recommended

Owen: Note to self: Don’t go to any potluck with Tan. This stuff is downright gross. Comes off saccharine sweet with oak chips. Drink 2022-24.

Verdict: Not recommended

2020 Kirkland Signature California Chardonnay. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times/TNS)

2020 Kirkland Signature California Chardonnay, 13.5% alcohol, 1.5-liter bottle for $7.99

Owen: Cloying with nondescript orchard fruit flavors. Drink 2022-24.

Verdict: Not recommended

Tan: We were both wincing as we sipped this, the worst white in our tasting. We couldn’t spit this out fast enough.

Verdict: Not recommended

2021 Kirkland Signature Sonoma County Chardonnay. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times/TNS)

2021 Kirkland Signature Sonoma County Chardonnay, 13.5% alcohol, $6.99

Owen: Sweet and a touch overripe, this chardonnay has a limited mineral backbone with peach, vanilla cream and buttered brioche flavors on the palate. While soft on the mouth, this will appeal to those who enjoy a sweeter chardonnay. Still, a decent value. Drink 2022-24.

Verdict: Recommended

Tan: Overall, the chardonnays have been the biggest disappointment. Last year, Costco surprised us with some excellent chards — from the Kirkland K Vine Evergreen Vineyard to the Kirkland Russian River Valley release. This year, most were duds, with this being the exception. And even this was at best passable with a good price point for a Sonoma County white.

Verdict: Recommended

2021 Kirkland Signature Sonoma County Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times/TNS)

2021 Kirkland Signature Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, 14% alcohol, price $11.99

Owen: Some cola, cranberry and tilled soils on the nose, and the palate is slightly sweet but shows a good degree of minerality. Coming in a touch hot with stewed red fruits. Goes well with barbecue. Pinot noir from this region is expensive, so $11.99 is a deal. Drink 2022-25.

Verdict: Recommended

Tan: We debated about this more than any other bottle. I think Russian River Valley makes the best pinots in the United States, but this doesn’t qualify as a good representation of that terroir. I get some earthy, berry and Coca-Cola notes and a dark-chocolate finish, but it lacks depth. And this goes down much boozier than the listed 14% alcohol. You can find better value pinots at Costco.

Verdict: Not recommended

2019 Kirkland Signature Chianti Classico Riserva. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times/TNS)

2019 Kirkland Signature Chianti Classico Riserva, 13.5% alcohol, $8.99

Owen: Aged for 24 months in oak and an additional three months in the bottle, this offers leather notes alongside red rose petals on the nose. The palate is soft and inviting, with red fruit flavors and earthy tones. Not the most complex Riserva, but you won’t find one this good from this region for under $10. Drink 2022-27.

Verdict: Recommended

Tan: I love this chianti, Owen. It’s acidic and dry, with a burst of red fruit, and lots of cloves and clay on the finish.

Verdict: Highly recommended

2017 Kirkland Signature Brunello di Montalcino. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times/TNS)

2017 Kirkland Signature Brunello di Montalcino, 14.5% alcohol, $19.99

Owen: It’s delicious — smooth tannins and soft approach. Red plum, white pepper, dusty soils with red currants on the palate. This is a modern style of Brunello. I would drink this with any world-class Italian fare. Drink 2022-32.

Verdict: Highly recommended

Tan: This was the best red in the tasting for me. Even though it’s one of the most expensive Costco wines, this $20 bottle is one of its best values. This Brunello is why wine lovers shell out $60 to buy a Costco membership.

Verdict: Highly recommended

2021 Kirkland Signature Côtes du Rhône Villages. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times/TNS)

2021 Kirkland Signature Côtes du Rhône Villages, 14% alcohol, $7.49

Owen: Made by Patrick Lesec, this wine blends mourvèdre, syrah and grenache, a cornucopia of red fruit flavors, black licorice, cigar box, black olives and garrigue. Pairs well with any poultry dish. Drink 2022-25.

Verdict: Highly recommended

Tan: This was the most talked-about Costco red last year and damn near impossible to hunt down at the time. You can find this on shelves much more easily around Puget Sound now. Costco has only raised the price of this bottle by 50 cents. It has ranked as one of the top Costco reds in our tasting the past three years.

Verdict: Highly recommended

2020 Kirkland Signature Gigondas. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times/TNS)

2020 Kirkland Signature Gigondas, 15% alcohol, $13.99

Owen: This is the highest scoring wine for me — best wine and best value. This brilliant Gigondas comes from winemaker Guillaume Gonnet and blends 85% Grenache with smaller parts syrah and mourvèdre. Coming from a good vintage in the southern Rhône, this Gigondas shows off red rose petals on the nose with smoked meats, green olive tapenade and hints of white pepper. The palate is smooth with a silky mouthfeel and a seamless texture. Drink 2022-28.

Verdict: Highly recommended

Tan: An improvement from last year’s vintage, this gem is easier to find on shelves since most consumers don’t know about Gigondas wines. This Rhône Valley red pops with dark fruit notes at the start with a lingering vanilla and mineral finish. Such a juicy, savory grenache. I would buy a case of this.

Verdict: Highly recommended

2019 Kirkland Signature Bordeaux Saint-Julien. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times/TNS)

2019 Kirkland Signature Saint-Julien Bordeaux, 14% alcohol, $18.69

Owen: This is an unusual blend for the region, combining 76% merlot with the remainder cabernet sauvignon. It’s soft and approachable, showing good viscosity and weight. Cassis, blackberry cobbler, coffee grounds and wet gravel on the palate. Tannic, this wine needs at least two hours of air if enjoying in its youth, but it is well made. Drink 2022-32.

Verdict: Recommended

Tan: Yes, well made, but not one of Costco’s best deals. You can find some stellar Bordeaux in this price range.

Verdict: Recommended

2021 Kirkland Signature California Cabernet Sauvignon. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times/TNS)

2021 Kirkland Signature California Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% alcohol, a 1.5-liter bottle for $7.99

Owen: Let’s just say that I wouldn’t toast this at my son’s first communion. It’s ridiculously sweet and tastes like oak chips with saccharin-driven black fruits. Drink 2022-24.

Verdict: Not recommended

Tan: Best used in my “When-life-gives-you-lemons-sangria” recipe”

Steps:* Add about 5 cups of Costco’s awful bulk cab in pitcher* Add juice of two lemons (or limes or one orange)* Add a chopped up apple* Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon* Add simple syrup or maple syrup and/or a cup of orange juice to sweeten* Optional: fancy it up with a cup of brandy and/or a half cup of Cointreau. Or add a cup or can of Sprite* Refrigerate it overnight

Verdict: Not recommended

2020 Kirkland Signature California Cabernet Sauvignon. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times/TNS)

2020 Kirkland Signature California Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% alcohol, 3-liter box for $13.99

Owen: The worst wine in our tasting. Some purple grape flavoring comes across with very sweet black fruits. Drink 2022-24.

Verdict: Not recommended

Tan: See sangria recipe above.

Verdict: Not recommended

2020 Kirkland Signature K-Vine Cabernet Sauvignon. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times/TNS)

2020 Kirkland Signature K Vine Cabernet Sauvignon from Wahluke Slope Vineyard, 14% alcohol, $13.99

Owen: Not the best effort from this single vineyard. It has a soft mouthfeel with layers of blackberry and black currants alongside tobacco leaf. I’m not getting much on the mid-palate. Drink 2022-26.

Verdict: Not recommended

Tan: This fruit bomb is so sweet that it masks the high alcohol. The alcohol is way higher than the listed 14%.

Verdict: Not recommended

2020 Kirkland Signature Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times/TNS)

2020 Kirkland Signature “Signature Series” Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.5% alcohol. $8.99

Owen: This mediocre wine lacks the richness and black fruit flavor of a Columbia Valley cab. Light to medium-bodied, this also is devoid of the “intensity, depth and elegance” denoted on the label. Drink 2022-24.

Verdict: Not recommended

Tan: Costco’s private label Washington cabs are an abomination this year.

Verdict: Not recommended

2019 Kirkland Signature Alexander Valley Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times/TNS)

2019 Kirkland Signature Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% alcohol, $8.99

Owen: Made by winemaker Allison Crowe, this delivers sweet black licorice, black currants and black cherry flavors. Forward and juicy with good acidity. Drink 2022-25.

Verdict: Recommended

Tan: This is the only good cab in our Costco tasting. I’m getting a lot of plums and ripe fruits. You can tell it’s been aged in American oak with the lingering vanilla on the finish. Hard to find a cab this good from the Alexander Valley for under $10.

Verdict: Highly recommended

2020 Kirkland Signature Napa Valley Red Blend. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times/TNS)

2020 Kirkland Signature Napa Valley Red Blend, 14.5 % alcohol, $10.99

Owen: Wildfires in 2020 seeped into the Napa Valley vineyards and marred a lot of the cabernet sauvignon grapes. It was a challenging year for their winemakers. This wine is mostly cabernet sauvignon (76%) with smaller parts merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot. This blend delivers very sweet dark fruit flavors with sweet pipe tobacco and suggestions of grape Big League Chew gum. Drink 2022-25.

Verdict: Not recommended

Tan: This bottle was sold out at several Costcos around Puget Sound, but I found one bottle in San Jose, California. See sangria recipe.

Verdict: Not recommended

2020 Kirkland Signature Malbec. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times/TNS)

2020 Kirkland Signature Malbec, 14% alcohol, $6.99

Owen: This is the same vintage that we tasted last year, and I think it has improved since our December 2021 tasting. Coming from Mendoza and made at the well-known Broquel winery, this 2020 Malbec offers chocolate and tobacco leaf with blackberry pie. Delicious. Drink 2022-25.

Verdict: Highly recommended

Tan: Consistently one of the highest rated reds for us. I’ve had many $20 glasses of malbec at restaurants that were inferior to this $6.99 bottle.

Verdict: Highly recommended

Kirkland Signature 10-year-old Tawny Porto. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times/TNS)

Kirkland Signature 10-year-old Tawny Porto, 20% alcohol, $16.99

Owen: This 10-year-old Tawny Porto is produced by Kobrand house Via Nova de Gaia — very appealing with rum raisin, black currants, toasty oak and caramel notes on the palate. Pair this silky-smooth Tawny with chocolate desserts. Drink 2022-29.

Verdict: Highly recommended

Tan: This is an outstanding Tawny for under $20. Lot of raisins, dulcet plum and dry fruits, with caramel on the finish. I bet if I served this port to a room of oenophiles, no one would believe it came from a big-box chain.

Verdict: Highly recommended

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