I drink a lot of wine, an awful lot of wine, about three large glasses almost every day (and note that, after all those medical appointments, I don’t reveal exactly how large those glasses are). So I need some self-control on how much I spend. I need some rules and regs. These are the standard ones: Everyday drinking = maximum 250 pesos (about $14 US) a bottle. Occasional splurge = 350 pesos (about $20). Special occasion = 500 pesos (about $28).

I have no problem justifying the OS (occasional splurge) with Don Day’s Wife. The SO (special occasion) is a little more difficult. This time though it would be easy.

“The daughters-in-law are coming,” I said, “I better stock up on some California Cabs.”

“Yes, you better,” said Don Day’s Wife.

I had my purchase order.

The place the daughters-in-law were coming to was San Miguel de Allende, our halftime home in the middle of Mexico. Most of the wine that is consumed in this town is done by ex-pats or foreign tourists, as Mexicans consume an average of just one bottle of wine per person each year.

How many expats are there in San Miguel? Some say as many as 15,000. I say it’s closer to 5,000. So we are very fortunate to have one very good liquor store with a good selection of wines, two others with a not bad selection, and two supermarkets with decent choices. Except when it comes to good California reds.

So it was time for a road trip, a clear-out-the-trunk road trip to Costco in Celaya. I dislike big box stores but, when it comes to wine, Costco is superb. The selection isn’t enormous but what’s there is expertly chosen. And, in most cases, the prices are unbeatable. It’s no wonder that Costco is now the world’s largest seller of wines.

I sent out an “I’ll buy the lunch if” email and I had a chauffeur, Bill Heublein, another expat who is very big on very big California reds.

There were five Californians at Costco that met my specs of Cabernet Sauvignon being the primary or only grape and falling into the SO category of being priced between 350 and 500 pesos (that was five more than in the four San Miguel retailers). These are the three from Costco that I (and the daughters-in-law) liked best.


Kirkland is Costco’s private brand that results from “selecting the very best of the region while it is still in the barrel”. Meritage is their Bordeaux-style blend that, in the 2013 version, combines 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc.

Kirkland Meritage has lots of cherry flavor with hints of strawberry and chocolate. We all enjoyed it and I think the only reason I ranked it in third place was my personal preference for the style and character of California reds made exclusively from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes to the style made with Bordeaux varietals.


I’ve been drinking this for years and have never been disappointed. With 2013 being regarded as a good year in Napa, this version of the 100% Cabernet Sauvignon doesn’t disappoint.

It’s fresher and fruitier than the Meritage with hints of coffee and licorice on the finish. Oh how I wish I could afford this as an everyday wine. But it wasn’t my number one choice. That accolade went elsewhere.


I was introduced to this California red by Chip Swab, another San Miguel expat who’s big on wine and it was love at first taste.

Without Chip’s introduction, I might never have bought it. For the packaging gives you little indication as to what’s inside. And when tasting, I’m actually very confused as to what’s inside. The first taste I get is the rich and intense flavor of peppery fruit that’s characteristic of the Zinfandel grape so it’s possible that this should be disqualified from the group for not being primarily Cabernet Sauvignon. But I’m guessing there’s definitely lots of Cab there by the cherry, blackcurrant and chocolate flavors.

689 comes from a couple of Italian brothers named Ernest and Julio who taught me to drink wine out of a jug without dribbling. You probably know what their last name is.

When I purchased all of these wines in March at Costco they were barely over my occasional splurge level. Now they’re barely inside my special occasion price ceiling. That almost 30% increase is very strange considering the strengthening of the Mexican peso versus the U.S. dollar. So would I still buy them at their current prices? Yes, I would, just as soon as I can come up with another SO purchase order from Don Day’s Wife.

“Honey, when are the daughters-in-law coming back down?”

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