At my local Costco in Foster City, California, I found two very good Napa Valley Cabernets selling for under $20. The 2005 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet is selling for $18.49 but until December 24th, or while supplies last, you can buy any number of bottles with a Costco coupon for $4.00 off that price. I checked Wine-Searcher.com and found this wine selling for $17 to $24 at wine shops across the country. K&L Wines is selling this wine for $19.99. On the Mondavi Website, this wine is not listed, but the 2006 vintage of this wine is selling for $28 a bottle. The Wine Enthusiast gives the 2005 wine 91 points, and Wine & Spirits gives it a 90-point rating. Mondavi must have made a ton of this wine. 2005 was a record harvest and most wineries were not about to turn wine juice loose on the bulk market. The last time they did that, Charles Shaw wine became famous. The wine was moving quickly and it appeared that many savvy buyers thought this was a very good deal at $14.49. I quickly got caught up in the frenzy and snagged a case.
I also spotted the 2006 Buehler Cabernet Sauvignon for $19.99. The 2005 is long gone, having received a 90 point rating from the Wine Spectator. I have always thought the Buehler Vineyards wines were a great deal. I have toured the winery and met John Buehler, owner and winemaker. His wines are priced at bargain rates when you consider the prices of other Napa Valley wines of the same quality. The Buehler Website has this wine selling at $28 a bottle.
I also found at Costco these Cabs made from the Napa Valley all under $20: Beaulieu Vineyards 2005 Rutherford Cabernet, Franciscan 2005 Napa Valley Cabernet, and Edge 2005 Napa Valley Cabernet.
It is rather amazing that Costco is able to pull this off at these prices. Several questions come to mind. Do they deal directly with the winery or a distributor, and how much do they make on a bottle of wine? Is the Mondavi a “loss leader?” I have heard that the usual markup on Costco wines is 12% max over their purchase price. Will there be more deals like this as the consumer-driven recession continues its drag on the economy and wine inventories begin to pile up? I think so.