Kirkland Brand Côtes du Rhône Villages

Côtes du Rhône Villages

Cost: $6.99

Where buy now: Costco

Grapes: Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre

Region: Rhone, France

Vintage: 2012

To be frank, this wine startled me. Really? A seven dollar Costco chuggin’ wine?


Pronounced (Coat-duh-Rone Vih-lahzh) it’s tickled with ripe cherry and old fashioned red licorice flavors. Wait, red licorice? No, not that corn syrupy Twizzlers crap- the REAL stuff. Decent tannins and finish. I decree at only $6.99, this is my Skank Wine of the month pick.


We paired Kirkland Brand Côtes du Rhône Villages with some grilled lamb chops (which you can also buy for a song at Costco). Our total meal, wine included, cost $20.  Remember: here in Minnesota, you do NOT need to be a Costco member to buy booze. It’s separate from the main warehouse.


From what the Farmer’s Almanac has been forecasting, we may be in for one helluva long Winter (again). Therefore, at only $6.99, buy a damn case. Your soul will thank you when you’re ready to fashion a noose because it’s still 100 f’ing below in March.


If you’re just a drinker and not a researcher, move your ass going to the store. Want to read more on the differences among the Côtes du Rhône region upon your return? I defer you to my pals at Wine Folly.

A Tale of Two Chianti Classicos: Borgo Scopeto & Badia a Coltibuono

Cost: Average price $17 (on sale $12.99)

Where buy now: Sorella Wines, Surdyk’s

Grapes: Sangiovese

Region: Tuscany, Italy

Vintage: 2010 & 2011

Borgo Scopeto & Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico
Borgo Scopeto & Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico

I love me some Chianti. I don’t care what it’s like outside, inside, in my head or in my bed. I.Love.It. Today, I’ll tell you a tale of two Chiantis (both “Classicos”). Just when you think you’re getting the hang of this Italian wine thing, little nuances pop up.  What’s the difference between plain old Chianti and Chianti Classico?

Brass tacks

Italy: a country in Europe.
Tuscany: a region in Italy.
Chianti: a region in Tuscany.
Chianti Classico: a subregion of Chianti

Deep Cuts

Italy: a country full of beautiful people, places and things [food].
Tuscany: romantic sunsets with the redolence of Cyprus , often associated with rolling hills, wine and olive production.
Chianti: wine that is made with a minimum of 75% Sangiovese grapes. (Note that blending white grapes with Sangiovese grapes is permissible.)
Chianti Classico: wine that is, at minimum, 80% Sangiovese grapes blended only with other red grapes. In addition, Chianti Classico rests in oak barrels for a minimum of 12 months. You will also see a black rooster seal on bottles of Chianti Classico. This is known as Consorzio Chianti Classico, a group of winemakers whom want to uphold the quality of their wines and their region.

Let me introduce you two a couple Chianti Classicos I love and are under $15 (on sale, at least).

Borgo Scopeto Chianti Classico (2010) – Blend: 90% Sangiovese, 5% Merlot, 5% Colorino.

Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico (2011) – Sangiovese.

Both of these wines exhibit that typical red ruby hue. Gun to my head, I’d say Badia a Coltibuono was a touch deeper in color.

Borgo Scopeto needed to open up about 15 minutes and it exhibited more of a blackberry jam fragrance. It also tastes of dark berries (with less of that earthy layer) and is chewier- definitely more “cat tongue” going on than the Coltibuono. This Chianti was a touch thinner in texture and excited the sides of my tongue. The finish was decent, but dissipates quicker than the Coltibuono.

Coltibuono fragrance was blackberry fruit with a layer of earth, both of which are evident in it’s taste as well. It boasts deep, rich flavors and layers that went swimmingly with our freshly grilled New York strip. This wine excited all areas of my tongue and has a nice, lingering finish.

Take the “Pepsi Challenge” and decide for yourself. Perhaps you’ll find a fave or find each of them pleasing. Regardless the challenge, make sure you have some nice aged Parmigiano Reggiano or Asiago. If you want to veer away from Italian cheeses (blasphemy!) most any hard cheese with some crystallization will do. (Just go see Certified Cheese Professional, Liz, at the Northeast Lunds.)

Other yummy pairing morsels include: roasted veggies (I love roasted cauliflower), grilled steak, lambchops (PS- Costco’s lambchops rule with some salt, pepper and a lil’ Rosemary), lasagna, cannelloni, ravioli, manicotti, eggplant parmesan, any red sauce smothered item, chili, pork roast and hamburgers. A while back, I ate bánh mì with Jason Kallsen’s Twin Cities Wine. Here he is schooling me about the Chianti Classico region.

Jason Kallsen
Jason Kallsen

This is the best part of Chianti: it doesn’t require “fancy”. This is a wine you can dress up or dress down. Walk to your nearest gas station (who are you kidding, you’ll drive), pick up a Heggies “6 pack” pizza and pair away.

What is Heggies? Read Chris Clayton’s Twin Cities Business article.

As a wise man once said, “If it’s good to you, it’s good for you”.

Domaine Reverdy Hippolyte Sancerre

Cost: Average price $25

Where buy now: Sorella Wines

Grapes: Sauvignon Blanc

Region: Loire Valley, France

Vintage: 2012

Domaine Reverdy Hippolyte Sancerre
Domaine Reverdy Hippolyte Sancerre

Yes, you can call me out on the fact that it’s been months since I’ve posted a “Snob” bottle of the month. Sheesh! I feel like you’re behind the confessional curtain while I list my drinking sins. Guilt, shame, embarrassment. I am a non-practicing Catholic and yet those emotions come flooding back so quickly. That said, if Communion was from this bottle, I’d definitely attend church more frequently.

This Sancerre is truly heavenly, made by angels. Well, not really, but if angels ran a vineyard, it might result in this Tupelo honey gold liquid. It’s sooo worth the $25+ price tag. How come? Because it’s heavenly and it’s made by angels?

Honestly, discovering this wine was a fluke. My husband was shopping the Muni LQ (yes, that’s a thing in MN) near us and he found it deeply discounted. Though it was still more than our typical $15 threshold, the deep discount had my bargain-minded husband scheming and inquiring.

Now, when my husband brings home wine, it’s pretty much a gamble.  What’s great is that if I don’t like it, he’ll drink it. He’s a bit like Mikey from the Life cereal commercials that way. (Although since the advent of this blog, he’s becoming more and more versed, I have to admit.) We uncorked, poured, swirled and took a sip. We looked at each other simultaneously, and paused. Then, on cue, as if scripted in a cheesy commercial, we exalted in joy!

Our spontaneous yet synchronized exaltation truly started with the rich pineapple & vanilla notes that enveloped our sniffers. It’s what a Bonne Bell Lipsmacker wished it could be, though I’m not trying to imply it’s sweet & synthetic. This wine’s light-to- medium body is balanced by a swirl of crisp, acidic tartness- plenty to wake up our taste buds. Lastly, the finish lingered long enough to take you to that heavenly place, as if pillowy clouds gently whisked us away to some utopian garden.

If I asked you “What would angel-made wine taste like?”, what would you say? Truthfully, I wouldn’t have known how to answer that question until this beautiful Sancerre came (or perhaps descended) into my life. And to think, this serendipitous encounter almost didn’t happen.