Finally found this one at our local Costco! Today we check out the one and only Costco Wine Advent Calendar for 2021. Updated with our impressions of the wines. We tasted them all, but it does it live up to the hype?
We absolutely love Advent Calendars here at the Reverse Wine Snob household. In fact, we gifted Advent Calendars to just about everyone we know last year to try to bring a little cheer to the long days of the pandemic.
Of course, the one calendar we could never find was the famed Costco Wine Advent Calendar. Well, this year we finally got it and we're here to tell you all about it (for better or worse).
The $99.99 box, which is exclusively available at Costco, contains 24 half (375ml) bottles and comes from Flying Blue Imports. This means that all of the wines come from their portfolio. The result is that none of the wines come from recognizable producers and; in fact, they all seem to be special labels created just for this project.
That's not necessarily a bad thing, and they definitely seem to have done a good job making this an adventure with lots of interesting regions and grapes (more on that in a minute).
Before we get to the wines, let's take a look at the packaging. They definitely did a nice job with little cut-outs for each day so if you want to be surprised you certainly can be.
Here's what it looks like underneath.
Of course, what really matters here is the wine and in addition to the usual suspects like Cab, Malbec, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio they've also included some really unique and interesting varieties and regions that have the potential to truly make this an adventure. That includes varieties like Macabeo, Fernao Pires, Zenit and Kotsifali. The regions even include places like Bulgaria, Greece, Moldova and Hungary.
One other note (written before we tried the wines) as we've gotten this question a few times. If you're expecting every wine to be great, the Costco Wine Advent Calendar is not for you. You will undoubtedly be disappointed by what you find.
If, on the other hand, you look at this as more of a fun exploration of varieties and regions you wouldn't typically consume, then this has the potential to be lots of fun even if many of the wines are just not that great (or even downright bad).
If you'd like to keep the rest of the contents of your Costco Wine Advent Calendar a surprise, you'll probably want to stop reading here. If not, here are all the details on the wines included as well as a photo of a few of the labels. (Note, due to supply issues there are a few different variations of wines available, we've listed them all below.)
We're also tasting these wines early and adding our notes to each below. Let's find out if this truly is an adventure, or just all marketing hype...
Wines in the Costco Wine Advent Calendar (Wine Advent-ure) Box:
- Strut King Chardonnay from Italy - not a bad start! This is a decent, fruity, un-oaked Chardonnay.
- Portrait of a Wallflower Merlot or Old Soul Merlot from France (both Pays d'Oc). We received the Portrait of a Wallflower Merlot. Let's just say the Old Soul Merlot HAS to be better.
- Stacks & Stones Sauvignon Blanc from France - a nice aroma but a bit thin and watery on the palate.
- Voldé Cabernet Sauvignon from Moldova - Moldova, which is in-between Ukraine and Romania, isn't the first (or tenth or hundredth) place you would think of for Cabernet Sauvignon. This won't change that. It's too bad, it would have been nice to showcase a native Moldovan variety here.
- Shadow Dance Chenin Blanc from South Africa - another letdown. We love South African Chenin Blanc but this is not a good example.
- Mendoza Nights Malbec from Argentina or Magical Nights Pinot Noir from France. We received the Mendoza Nights Malbec and we mostly liked it. Probably our favorite so far, although that isn't saying a whole lot.
- Pastello Pinot Grigio from Italy (Delle Venezie DOC) - it's OK.
- Even Steven Torrontés from Argentina or Even Steven Bordeaux Blanc from France - We received the Torrontés and it's not really good but not really bad either. A very Sauvignon Blanc-like example of Torrontés.
- Azzimato Montepulciano d'Abruzzo from Italy (Abruzzo DOC) - Finally! A after a little time to breathe this is pretty nice.
- Timok River Semi-Sweet Riesling from Bulgaria (Danube Plain) - After finally getting a good bottle (the Montepulciano), I think we just hit a new low here.
- Struggling Deep Roots Red Blend from France (Cotes de Gascogne) - I'm struggling to find a nice way to describe this one.
- Ode Couple Fernao Pires from Portugal - A new grape for us. Reading up on it, it's supposed to be both aromatic and spicy. This is neither. We're now at the halfway point and I have to say this is quite a disappointment so far as most of the wines chosen haven't even been very good examples of their varieties. I mean, all they had to do was at least include halfway decent wines and this would have been fun. Instead, we're almost dreading opening the next bottle. I'm hopeful they saved the best for the second half, but I think that's extremely unlikely...
- 12 Generations Merlot from Bulgaria (Danube Plain) - an OK Merlot with a bit of a pyrazine note.
- Octopada Macabeo from Spain - not a bad example of Macabeo. Tart and tangy with a lip-smacking finish. Just 11.5% alcohol too.
- Palloncini Rosato from Italy (Rubicone IGT) - 51% Sangiovese and 49% Merlot. I had high hopes for this one but it didn't deliver.
- Blue Seirina Kotsifali + Syrah from Greece - another new to me grape, which is cool. The taste, not so cool. It's not necessarily bad, it's just not very good.
- Venteux 22 White Blend from France (Cotes de Gascogne) - a semi-decent blend of Ugni Blanc and Colombard.
- Luna Brillante Red Blend from Spain (Navarra) - we love wines from Navarra. This one definitely needs some time to breathe and comes around nicely once it does.
- Pannonia Zenit/Gruner Veltliner from Hungary (Dunantal) - this is certainly quite drinkable (hallelujah for that!) even though it tastes a tad bit watered down.
- Champs Anciens Grenache/Syrah from France - we love Grenache. We love Syrah. We love Grenache and Syrah together. We don't even like this.
- ACAB Red Blend (Aragones-Castelao-Alicante Bouschet) from Portugal - it's not undrinkable. Not sure if it's really OK or if our expectations are just so low at this point that we'll take anything that doesn't need to be poured down the drain as a win.
- Brillo Solar Chardonnay from Spain - I think this was supposed to be in-between a buttery and an unoaked Chardonnay but it missed the mark for us.
- West Cape Gold Cabernet Sauvignon from South Africa - tastes like a really cheap Cab made from under-ripe grapes.
- Brilliant Brut from France - an inoffensive sparkling wine
And there you have it. Overall, we found this to be quite a disappointment with really only 7 or 8 wines even coming close to the decent category. It had so much potential, but it really felt like the producer was much more interested in the marketing side of things than the wine itself. It's especially disheartening because this is likely many people's first introduction to many of these regions and grapes.
Since this was the first year we were able to find it, we're not sure if this is par for the course or an anomaly but we will most likely be passing on next year's version.
You can find more info on each wine at the Flying Blue Imports site for the 2021 Costco Wine Advent Calendar here.