Bargain-hunting in the Costco wine department

My local Costco (Santa Cruz, Calif.) carries an impressive array of wines, everything from Dom Perignon Champagne to some pricey California bottles (including some in magnums) to Kirkland-brand everything to niche products from the Santa Cruz Mountains, which is the local AVA. Lately I’ve been trolling for bargains, especially wines that are under $10. In that category, it can be hit-or-miss, and there have definitely been some misses (though nothing truly terrible).

But there have been some hits, too. Take the 2016 Côté Mas Blanc Mediterranée, a southern French blend of grenache blanc, vermentino, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc, which carries a nearly unbelievable price of $5 for a liter. It’s fresh and lively, with grapefruit and white nectarine flavors, a bare hint of dried herb/garrigue and some fleshiness. The wine is produced by Domaine Paul Mas in Languedoc, and it’s ideal for sipping on the deck or patio this summer.

Another hit was the 2014 Seaside Cellars Pinot Noir ($9) from New Zealand’s Marlborough region. A lot of Marlborough pinot is often described as “picnic pinot” – pretty, fruity and easy to drink, but not particularly complex. I thought this one was a cut above that. It’s smooth and supple, with pretty berry fruit, but it’s elevated by its savory, forest floor character. And nine bucks for a pinot noir that actually tastes like pinot? Great buy.

Finally, there was a white that broke the $10 barrier, but not by much. I was intrigued by the 2015 Dócil Loureiro ($11.59) from the Vinho Verde area of Portugal because you don’t see all that many single-variety loureiros. The wine is a project of Dirk Niepoort from the Douro. It’s a good example of the more serious breed of Vinho Verde. Rather than being slightly fizzy and/or off-dry, this loureiro is very dry and racy, with flavors of lime, green apple and wet stone. Oysters, anyone?