Archive for July 10th, 2008

When not to buy wine at Costco

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

I have struggled to evaluate Costco as a source of “fine” wine.  Sure, the prices are good, but I have had quite a few bad experiences.  It seems like Costco are just too price focussed.  So we get offered wines from reasonably good estates but poor vintages.  Or decent wines getting to the end of their life.

I really trust Costco to find me the best price on a wide range of items, especially electronics and white goods where, in exchange for accepting last year’s model, enormous savings can be made.  Also consumables like washing powder, water, beer and bog rolls are generally cheapest at Costco, providing you buy in bulk.

I am just not convinced that the wine department is staffed by real enthusiasts.  I am certainly not going to defame Costco, I am sure their wine buyers are diligent, and that the provenance of all their wines is thoroughly checked.  It is just that, if I was a wine negociant, and someone came knocking with price as the sole criterion for purchase, I would be tempted to find the cases I could sell cheap.  A good name/bad year combination – looks good value?  A wine that less price sensitive buyers rejected – I can afford to let it go cheap!  A batch with a high percentage of corked bottles – who would know?

On my last visit, I was tempted by the fine wine display, so splashed out £19.92 on a bottle of Château Camensac 1995.

Camensac corked....for some reason