I was in Costco recently picking up some shrimp, and because the wine department is right next to the seafood, meandered over for a look at what was available. The wine section isn't what it was way back in 1998 when, with great fanfare, the big box company hired Master of Wine David Andrew to build their fine wine program. But they still have quite a good selection of reliable producers from around the world.
Unlike Trader Joe's, which often buys obscure labels from little-known regions and/or from smaller producers, Costco relies on tried and true, mostly larger producers, and prices their wines just a smidgen under most wine shops — and in L.A., wine shop prices are very competitive.
It's good to know, though, that in a pinch you can do some one-stop shopping at Costco. Hey, and if you need a wine cooler, you can pick up one on the way out.
Here are my picks for some good buys at Costco right now.
2012 Dr. Loosen Blue Slate Riesling Kabinett (Mösel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany): A sweet-tart German Riesling from the ever excellent Dr. Loosen. Serve it well-chilled, the better to appreciate flavors of green apple, pear and citrus. Very refreshing with a clean finish. $14.99.
A great red full of layers
2008 Allegrini "Palazzo della Torre" Veronese (Veneto, Italy): For under $15, you can drink a great red from the Veneto. Allegrini's "Palazzo della Torre" has also been a favorite of mine for its depth and complexity. The fruit is ripe and vibrant, accented with sweet spices, licorice, chocolate and tobacco. Pay attention to how this Valpolicella develops in the glass, opening up and showing new layers over an evening. $14.99.
A bargain for the quality
2008 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco (Piedmont, Italy): This is the basic Barbaresco from what may be the best cooperative winery in the world, certainly in Italy. A true expression of the nebbiolo grape in Barbaresco. Note the perfume of dark berries and rose petal and the wine's elegance. Tannins are laid back, the fruit bright and vivid. And what a bargain for the quality. To drink now or hold for a few years. $25.99.
A silky Pinot
2010 Louis Jadot Bourgogne Pinot Noir (Burgundy, France): A Burgundy for $14? I'm not kidding. From the estimable old house of Louis Jadot comes this everyday Bourgogne rouge. No special vineyard, just Pinot Noir sourced from vineyards all over Burgundy. Bring out the roast chicken or salmon for this silky Pinot with soft tannins and a perfume of wild strawberries. $13.99.
A terrific summer pour
2011 Jermann Pinot Grigio (Venezia Giulia, Italy): Silvio Jermann makes interesting wines at every price level and is best known for his Vintage Tunina. Jermann's Pinot Grigio comes from northeastern Italy. It's intense and focused, yet has an easygoing charm. A terrific summer aperitif or a wine to serve with grilled shrimp or fish. $17.99.