Wednesday, August 27, 2008


You know that something’s afoot in the wine world when wine geeks start touting the selection at their local Costco. This happened a few weeks ago on the Robert Parker forum Web site. That came as a surprise to me. I never would have thought that wine geeks of the magnitude that post on that forum would even step into a Costco

Well, something just may be afoot at Costco, as I have tasted my first few wines bought at a Staten Island store. For $10 to $12 a bottle, these wines okay.

One of the wines, a Pinot Noir, was under the Robert Mondavi label.

I’m unsure how the wines wound up in Costco, but it appears to be a sign that the once famous Mondavi name may be in some over-production trouble. I won’t even go into how sad that makes me feel. The sadness kicked in when I read the news that Constellation Brands bought the Robert Mondavi brand name. Ah well, what to expect from a culture that has become a brand name whore, but I digress.

My friends find the practice of taking notes annoyingly geeky, so when I am in their homes I honor their wishes. Therefore, I don’t have any notes about the wines they served, but I do remember the Mondavi Pinot Noir as a wonderful bargain, and it was joined by one fantastic and one not-so-fantastic New Zealand (Marlborough) Sauvignon Blanc—remember, each wine was from $10-$12.

There was a Chardonnay in the crowd, but it must not have made an impression among the other wines—I remember nothing about it.

My friend said he settled on $10-$12 to see what range of quality Costco offered at that reasonable price. Based on what I tasted that night, I’d say Costco did a good job in that price range.

Of course, I do not consider myself a true wine geek, but still, I have never been in a Costco. Part of my problem is that we have no Costco around my neighborhood. We have a Sam’s Club not far away but two things keep me from shopping there: it’s a Wal-Mart store and it’s a Wal-Mart store.

If Sam’s Club or Wal-Mart were giving away premium wine I’d still rather pay for it. Call me an elitist, but my aversion to that place runs deep. I view such mega-businesses as one major sign of a decaying culture, and I refuse to be made to feel a part of the decay. In my lifetime thus far, I have been in one Wal-Mart; more than enough for me (it's the same with Starbucks, although I've been in that store twice).

I suppose I should feel the same way about Costco as I do about Wal-Mart as I understand the former is trying to gain major advantages in wine distribution and retailing. But since I have never even seen a Costco, the only opinion I can form is based on the decent wines I tasted that didn’t cost my friend a lot of money.

Maybe some of you can enlighten me. Is Costco just another version of Wal-Mart or is there hope?

Copyright Thomas Pellechia
August 2008. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

  1. CostCo is another version of Walmart - just not as evil.