The 2023 Costco Wine Advent Calendar is here and we've tasted all the wines! Get the low down below on whether this year's box is worth the cost.
We were delighted to pick up the new 2023 Costco Wine Advent Calendar at our local store right at the end of August. For this year's edition Costco is trying to expand the availability/season and remove the "Advent" theme, releasing this box earlier than in years past, while still producing something that could be used for Advent.
The box we found is the Costco "Around The World In 24 Wines" edition.
There is also a a more winter/holiday themed "Take A Wine Adventure" 24 bottle box that has the exact same wines and will be featured in stores in the NE region.
And finally, there is also a "Around The World In 12 Wines" variation that has a subset of the same wines.
Still priced at $99.99 for 24 half (375ml) bottles, we've already tasted every wine in the box and the wines are all at least decent, with some being quite good. With a really nice variety of styles, regions and grapes, this was quite fun, just the way it should be! (And a welcome relief from the disappointment of the last couple of years.)
Just like last year, the packaging is also quite nice.
All the wines once again come from Flying Blue Imports but as we mentioned, they've stepped up their game this year. Let's check them all out! Find our brief tasting notes for every wine below!
Here are days 1-6:
- Lightning Strikes Again Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile
- Pastello Pinot Grigio Rubicone IGT from Italy
- Les Champs d'Or Pays d'Oc Merlot from France
- Let Good Be Red Blend from Sicily
- Classic Cruise Sauvignon Blanc from Romania
- Mendoza Nights Bonarda from Argentina
Dark, juicy fruit. Just a bit of a green note (pyrazine), which is very common in wines from Chile but we don't particularly like, so we were very happy it was minimal. Add in a little oaky spice, tobacco, a smooth mouthfeel and a long finish and this is pretty tasty. A nice start!
Dry, juicy, quaffable. Lots of lemon/lime plus some other citrus notes with good depth. This is a nice little wine! There was a Pastello Pinot Grigio in the 2021 box, but it was from Delle Venezie, not Rubicone (Emilia-Romagna). This one is actually much better.
100% Merlot. Dark fruit, some licorice, cedar and spice. Smooth, round mouthfeel. Dry, long, bit grippy finish. This one actually benefits from some air. Not bad.
Made from organic grapes. Really distinctive aroma full of stewed cherry. Some balsamic and maybe some herbal notes as well. The cherry overload continues when tasting where it's just a bit too much. The first miss for us.
Instantly recognizable as Sauvignon Blanc on the nose. Crisp and clean, this is a pretty nice example of the variety and from Romania no less. Thumbs up.
A decent example of this fruity variety. Nice touches of spice. Smooth and very drinkable.
Here are days 7-12.
- Stacks & Stones Famoso from Italy
- Who's Who Pinotage from Western Cape, South Africa
- Trim Vine Merlot from Italy
- Octopada Macabeo Vino De La Tierra De Castilla, Spain
- A Seaworthy Tale Blaufrankisch from Hungary
- Palloncini Rosé from Italy
A nearly extinct variety that was brought back from the brink. This is a nice wine and a nice inclusion here. Easy to drink, good fruit, good balance.
Pinotage can be polarizing, but this is a pretty tame example. Soft, smooth, a little spicy and with good, tart, juicy fruit, it's not overly complex but also hard not to like.
Soft, smooth, perhaps a bit sweet. It's not necessarily our favorite style of Merlot but it should have mass appeal.
Rather lackluster example of the variety that is lacking in aroma and flavor. It does get some nice lemon notes on the soft finish, but overall it's unexciting.
Easy drinking, with ripe fruit and a little black pepper. Like the Pinotage, this is another nice example of a variety many shy away from but really shouldn't. Pair it with some bratwurst off the grill if you can.
It's about time we finally get a rose! This blend of 51% Sangiovese and 49% Merlot pours very light colored in the glass but has a nice fruity aroma of watermelon, strawberry and other berry fruit. Similar in the mouth, with lots of juicy fruit and a lively mouthfeel. Perhaps a touch sweet, but very easy to drink and enjoyable. Very nice.
And here are days 13-18.
- Right Hook Cabernet Sauvignon from Thracian Lowlands, Bulgaria
- Ceu Do Norte from Portugal
- Azzimato Montepulciano d'Abruzzo from Italy
- Old World Players Chenin Blanc from Western Cape, South Africa
- Secrets Revealed Red Blend from Portugal
- Once Upon A Time Rosé from Southern France
There are lots of green notes on this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon but also some ripe fruit and decent structure.
Interesting, refreshing and easy to drink with lots of lemon/lime and a little tropical fruit. Since the wine calendar came out so early this year, I was able to sample this one on a 96 degree day and it hit the spot. A field blend of indigenous grape varieties.
Soft, smooth and unfortunately a very simple example of Montepulciano. We love this grape so it's a bit of a letdown.
We’re big fans of Chenin Blanc from South Africa, and this is a rich, tangy, full-bodied example with a lip-smacking finish.
It's a solid, dry, grippy Portuguese red blend. Like a lot of the wines in this box, it's not super complex but it is a good example of the style.
A decent example of a French rosé. Featuring watermelon and berry and it even has some salty minerality to it.
Finally, here are days 19-24.
- Latitude 40 Grenache/Garnacha from Spain
- Zille Semi Sweet Red Wine from Italy
- Brass Rabbit Pinot Blanc from Luxembourg
- Velvet Rider Syrah Cabernet Sauvignon from Italy
- Argosy Pirates Red Blend from France
- Nightfall White Blend Medium Sweet from Spain
Spanish Garnacha is one of our favorite value buys but this wine (or at least this label) was also in last year's box and it was not very good. Unfortunately, this is another very mediocre example. With so much good, inexpensive Spanish Garnacha out there, I'm not quite sure how they keep missing year after year, seems like this should be one of the easiest bottles in the box to source.
A competent soft, smooth and sweet red blend. If you like some residual sugar in your wine, you should enjoy this.
Loads of tart fruit flavors with a luscious, lip-smacking finish. This is a nice, crowd-pleasing intro to the variety from a place you wouldn't expect.
This is a decent, accessible red blend of 70% Syrah and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. Smooth with dark fruit and a little pepper.
Dark fruit, dry, just a bit grippy with good length. It could use a bit more depth but otherwise this is a tasty red blend.
And for the grand finale, we've got a sweet wine from Spain. It's not my favorite, but it should make a nice pairing with all those Christmas eve desserts!
This was rather fun! While you're not getting anything mind-blowing in this box, there are very few duds. With a variety of styles, regions and varietals this is an easy and enjoyable way to expand your wine horizons a bit.
You might also be interested in our review of the Costco Bordeaux box set!
Looking for more of our favorite picks from Costco? Click the pic below to browse our multi-page listing of recommended wines along with more information on how to best shop the store!
You can also read our reviews of the past Costco Wine Advent Calendars below...
The 2022 Costco Advent Wine Calendar review! Despite the poor quality of last year's version, we decided to take one for the team and check out the 2022 version. Read on for our detailed review and brief tasting notes on each wine.
We absolutely love Advent Calendars here at the Reverse Wine Snob household. In fact, we gifted Advent Calendars to just about everyone we know to try to bring a little cheer to the long days of the pandemic.
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, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc 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, Saperavi and Rivaner.
The regions even include off the beaten path places like Hungary, North Macedonia, Georgia, Moldova and Luxembourg in addition to the tried true like Italy, Spain, Portugal and France.
One other note (written before we've tried this year's 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 (witness last year's version - see below for more on that). 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).
Here's the full listing of what's in this year's box along with our tasting notes on each:
- Right Hook Cabernet Sauvignon from the Thracian Lowlands in Bulgaria - with expectations set pretty low after last year's debacle, this isn't too bad at all. Soft, simple and easy to drink, this is about what you'd expect for the equivalent of an $8 bottle of wine. We'll take that as a win.
- Moon Meadow Chardonnay from Italy - also not bad! Perhaps a tad flabby, but this has nice fruit and touches of baking spice with a fairly long, juicy finish.
- Birds on a Wire Red Blend from Portugal - we love Portuguese red blends and the value they deliver. This is actually a pretty nice, dry example. This is starting much better than last year!
- Disheveled Tailor Königliche from Hungary - This is a new to me grape, I don't think I've ever even heard of Konigliche before, which is indigenous to Hungary. It's got some lovely floral and tropical fruit aromas and it doesn't taste too bad either with a touch of honey and some nice mineral notes in the mouth. A nice match for seafood.
- Latitude 40 Grenache from Spain - before we tried this one, we wondered why it was labeled as Grenache like in France and not Garnacha which is traditional in Spain. After tasting we're guessing it's because it doesn't taste like Garnacha at all. Extremely young and rather sweet, this is the Beaujolais Nouveau version of Spanish Garnacha (that's not a compliment). We recommend using this for Sangria. On the other hand, this is the first real miss and we're already 5 days in, so that's not too bad!
- Divine Pondering Pinot Noir from North Macedonia - Pinot Noir from North Macedonia, that's a first for me. Very soft and light, unfortunately it's a forgettable example of the variety.
- Proper Etiquette Chenin Blanc from South Africa - Chenin Blanc from South Africa is one of our go-to recommendations for value. This is an OK example.
- Crowned Beast Saperavi from country of Georgia - Kudos for adding this old, but little-known grape (outside of the country of Georgia anyway) variety to the mix; however, this is a pretty mild, and rather unexciting, example.
- Pinky Truce Vino Rosato from Italy - tastes and smells a bit bubblegummy. It's simple and probably a bit sweet but also juicy, fresh and easy to drink.
- The Butchery Cabernet Sauvignon from Moldova - a decent example of Cabernet from a place you wouldn't expect.
- Racer 68 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo from Italy - smooth, simple, easy drinking.
- Crush Rivaner from Luxembourg - not much structure or depth but the flavor that's there is good and it's cool to try a wine from tiny Luxembourg.
- Classic Cruise Tempranillo from Spain - a light, basic but rather unexciting example of Tempranillo.
- The Perfect Match Merlot from France - the perfect match for what? Not a big fan of this one.
- Little Ditty Macabeo from Spain - it tastes OK and is a decent example of the variety.
- Point Taken Shiraz from South Africa or the Point Taken Bordeaux Blend from France - we received the Shiraz. Again, it wasn't necessarily bad, it just wasn't a very exciting example.
- Here Kitty Kitty Trebbiano from Italy - another simple but decent one. I've said something similar to this on a lot of wines so far and in my book (especially compared to last year) this is a win. While these may not be wines you would seek out on their own, so far most of them are at least decent $8/bottle examples of their varieties.
- Nightfall Monastrell from Spain - now this is rather tasty! This is probably my favorite wine so far.
- Ring Ring Rosé from Italy - again, it's decent. A fresh and fruity, but not sweet, example of rosé.
- Flew The Coup Syrah from France - a disappointing example of our favorite variety, unfortunately. With the amount of good Syrah in France, it seems like this should have been an easy one.
- El Campeon Fernao Pires from Portugal - it's definitely drinkable, there's just not much there.
- Strut King Vino Rosso from Italy - a smooth, inoffensive blend.
- Seaworth Sauvignon Blanc from Spain - a non-grassy but flavorful version of Sauvignon Blanc. Another decent one.
- My 2 Cents Cabernet Sauvignon from France - I was really hoping this box would end with a bang, but instead it was more of a whimper.
And there you have it. Overall, this is a big step up from last year, although that's not saying a lot in and of itself.
We will say that this year's version contained mostly decent examples of many off-the-beaten path varieties and regions, so we'll take that as a win, especially considering we're talking about the equivalent of $8 bottles of wine. Hopefully they can continue the improvement for next year!
And finally, here is our review of the 2021 Costco Wine Advent Calendar with all of our tasting notes.
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. 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.
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.
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.
Looking for more of our favorite picks from Costco? Click the pic below to browse our multi-page listing of recommended wines along with more information on how to best shop the store!