I had this horrible feeling recently. That I’m cheap. And I hate that feeling.
I’ve got friends who serve 200 peso wines. I’ve got friends who serve 300 peso wines. I’ve got friends who serve 700 peso wines. And there I was a few nights ago serving 100 peso wines. To some of my best friends. And you know what? I’m not sure they knew.
Maybe it was because they’d had a few. Maybe it was because my friends are overly polite…no, I doubt that. Much more chance it was because these 100 peso wines don’t taste like 100 peso wines. Much more chance that they thought I was serving 200 maybe 300 peso wines.
One guess where I bought them. Starts with a C. Yes, you got it, Costco. Or, when it comes to inexpensive wines, perhaps they should be called Locostco.
The wines come from Chile, a country that was the talk of the wine world about 20 years ago but has been a little neglected lately. The lack of buzz though is not because the Chilean wine industry hasn’t been growing. Since 1999, the amount of land planted with grapes has more than doubled, the amount of wine produced has more than tripled and the number of wineries has gone from less than 20 to over 100. The largest of those wineries and the second largest winery in the world is Concha y Toro and they’re the makers of the two wines I was serving.
The wines, one of them white, one of them red, are sold under the name Seleccion and, as best I can tell (Costco and Concha y Toro both refuse to tell), Costco Mexico retails them exclusively. Both of the wines are sold young (the white is labelled 2018; the red has no vintage year) and both of them have the modern, fresh, fruit forward style that has become so popular in the last few years.
The white just happens to be my favorite of all blends, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, in an 85/15 ratio. The blend has its origin in France but lately has been used with great success in the Margaret River region of Australia.
Concha y Toro Seleccion’s dominant flavors are grapefruit and lemon but there’s a grassiness and a hint of apple that makes the flavor much more complex. When it first hits the tongue there’s a slight sweetness but that quickly changes to a crisp, dry finish. I like it very cold and would even recommend taking Seleccion Blanco from the fridge to the freezer for five minutes before serving.
The blend used in Seleccion Tinto doesn’t have a long tradition and is, almost exclusively, a Chilean creation. It consists of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon and 49% Carmenère with the Carmenère, Chile’s signature grape, playing a similar role to the very similar Merlot in the blend. 20 years ago, Chilean wineries were selling Carmenère as a single varietal. In more recent years, they are recognizing its value in blends, particularly with Cabernet.
The taste is almost all red fruit with blackcurrant leading the way and cherry and raspberry not far behind. There’s a touch of tobacco and green pepper suggesting the red Seleccion has had some oak barrel aging but I’m guessing only a few months. Though it’s a blend, it’s more reminiscent of a California Cab than it is a Bordeaux.
But what am I doing comparing Concha y Toro Seleccion to wines that cost an absolute minimum of 200 pesos? Both the red and the white Seleccion are sold by Costco in six bottle lots for just $599 if you have them delivered, like I do, or $481 if you drive to the store in Celaya or Queretaro, like most people do, and pick them up.
Call me cheap if you want. But I think, if you taste the red or white Seleccion, you might just change that adjective to thrifty. I’m actually astounded that Concha y Toro can make and Costco can sell two very good wines at such very low prices.
I was actually proud to serve them to my friends. But please don’t tell them about this blog post and those prices.
You will find Costco, Mexico at costco.com.mx.