Kendall-Jackson 2005 Chardonnay – Costco forgiven?

Ah! Well a day! What evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.

If you are a regular reader you will recall my previous disappointments with wines from Costco.  The Costco philosophy is to stack it really high and sell it really cheap, but, and here’s the thing, they stick to one brand per similar item (to maximise buying power) and generally make it an upmarket quality product.  When you translate that to wine you typically get good name wines in bad years.

 Kendall-Jackson next to some seedling Parsley that may, or may not feed us this century…for some reason.

Imagine, if you will, a summer’s morning in July in England.  Yawning and crawling out of bed, nursing a slight hangover, and seeking re-hydration,  I opened the curtains and, sure enough, water, water, everywhere.  I wondered if the Ancient Mariner, on his cursed journey back from Antarctica, ran out of San Pellegrino as I had done.

And every tongue, through utter drought,
Was withered at the root;
We could not speak, no more than if
We had been choked with soot.

I consider San Pellegrino to be the best fizzy water, and I consume at least one bottle per day, so I popped down to Costco in Leeds to replenish my supply.  Whilst there, I couldn’t resist a quick look at the wines in stock.

I figured that, as an American company, Costco ought to be able to tell a decent Californian wine from a crap one, so I put a bottle of Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay 2005 Vintner’s Reserve into my trolley.  This wine has some history, it seems.  A quick Google search revealed that Jamie Goode had recently reviewed it, although he found it at £8.99 from Morrisons.  So here is where Costco excels because they had it (by the single bottle) at £6.99!

I sliced open the foil and discovered a plastic cork.  I’m not sure the point of a plastic cork.  Maybe to please the stuffy French?  The notes on the reverse of the label were translated, somewhat hopefully, into French but I don’t foresee this persuading our parochial neighbours to try a wine from outside their own country.  Anyway, if you want an artificial seal (and I do) why not just a screw cap?

Back to the wine, and I got the slight botrytis smell mentioned by Jamie but I thought the overall nose was best described as rich fruitcake.  Being a bit of a fruitcake myself, these thoughts also came through in the flavour:  Candied peel, raisins and soft brown sugar.  Not a sweet wine, but with the sort of flavours you might associate with a dessert wine.  I definitely got the residual sugars mentioned in Jamie’s post and I think I liked them.

A bit sickly I suppose, if one drank too much, but nonetheless one of the nicer wines I’ve tried from Costco.  I’ll forgive the wine buyers for now, and next time I go, I’ll sample a couple more bottles from their range.

But now the day was drawing to a close.  As darkness fell, quenched in both oenological and aqueous circumstance, I saw fit to retire.

The silly buckets on the deck,
That had so long remained,
I dreamt that they were filled with dew;
And when I awoke, it rained.

6 Responses to “Kendall-Jackson 2005 Chardonnay – Costco forgiven?”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Has Bathgate finally lost the plot?…

    In what sense does the Ancient Mariner have anything to do with a Californian Chardonnay?
    I fear for his mental health…….

  2. Ciaran Says:

    Coming soon?…

    In Xanadu did Alastair
    A tasty Côtes du Rhône decree

  3. Ms. Q Says:

    I tried to search for info on what wines that Costco UK sells but no luck. I don’t drink white wines that much so don’t recognize the term “botrytis”

    I do drink chardonnay, especially if it’s hot. That’s probably the only time I’ll drink a white – when it’s hot and a red just feels too heavy. I have friends that argue the whole “Over-oaked California style” versus the lighter French style and whoosh! over my head. When it comes to white wines, I like anything from buttery-oak finishes to crisp-apple clean.

    I wonder when the death of the corkscrew will occur. I mean, there will always be some wine out there with corks. I have some Cabs from 1991 and those are corked. I gave one away as a birthday gift – I hope to hear from my friend at some point how it tastes.

    Anyway, I am fine with the screwtop. Makes things so much easier. I used to think that recorking was important (using the Vacuvin to remove the air) but then read that it made no difference at all.

    But back to California wine – I looked up some of the larger winemakers that may make it to Costco UK and looked in the under $15 range:

    Fetzer Vineyards 2005 Fetzer Valley Oaks $8.99
    Meridian Vineyards 2005 Santa Barbara County $10.00
    Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi 2005 WB Select Vineyard Series $12.00

    These got gold medals at one competition I follow when it comes to buying wines (I look for wines $10 and under).

    If you’re into Red Zins (and I wish I didn’t have to specify RED as I think of red as the default but one time I ordered the house Zin and got a white Zin! The glass arrived and I asked, “Why is this pink?” and the poor not-yet-of-drinking-age waiter named “Skip” or some other preppy name said, “It is a zin – a white zin”) I noticed that Zins from Lodi are a pretty good bet. I also love wines from Montevina winery in California – affordable and generally consistent from year to year.

    Another very quaffable wine (and fun to bring to parties) is Folie a deux’s “Menage a Trois” red. They also have a white or pink I think. I heard that the winery was recently absorbed/merged with a larger one which is probably why I see this wine all over (CostPlus carries it – not sure if this store is in the UK).

    I have also tagged you in my blog. Since you have your other more tech blog I would think you have some geek in you. You may even be 2 geeks in one: Wine and Tech.

    Check it out:

    Up to you if you want to climb aboard…

  4. Alastair Bathgate Says:

    Hi Ms Q
    Yes I’ve seen Menage a Trois available in the UK and will get round to trying that at some point. I have rarely tried Zinfandel but promise to do so too.
    I’m going to pass on the geek train but thanks for inviting me.
    You should really drink more whites! Try taking them out of the fridge half an hour before you drink them and you will get much more flavour. You might also like to compare an oaked chardonnay from California with an unoaked Chardonnay from Burgundy side by side and I hope that might persuade you that there is a world of white wine to explore!

  5. Ms. Q Says:

    No problem on the Geek train.

    Don’t reds last much longer uncorked? I live alone and a bottle will last me 3-4 days and the whites seem “off” after 2. I can’t help it, I just like reds so much more than whites and when given the choice…red will win most every time. Unless it’s freakin’ hot!

    I have had both oaked and unoaked Chardonnay and like both. I also like Vognier and am not too fussy about food-wine pairing although I do know that a good pairing can bring out the best in both the food and the wine!

    Have you read this blog:

    The author: Besides “cartoons drawn on the back of business cards”, my main gig is Marketing Strategist for Stormhoek, a small South African vineyard, whose Web 2.0 approach to wine making is currently getting a lot of international attention in the wine trade.

    I’ve been wondering what Stormhoek wines taste like – I don’t think they are sold in the States.

  6. Alastair Bathgate Says:

    Hi Ms Q
    Yes I did come across that site although I have not seen Stormhoek wines for sale yet.
    My experience of holding wine over for a day or two is that a white recorked and kept in the fridge seems to last better than a red for me. However, I love red wine and you should drink wine that you appreciate even if that means 95% red. Talking of which, I tried a (red) Zinfandel last night for the first time. I’ll write up the notes and publish them in the next week or two.

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