Wine for your Weekend: Five star wine at a one star price!

Last weekend I walked into Costco wine and started browsing the bins. As I browse, I always keep my wine scanner app at the ready should I come across something that I don’t know or is potentially an excellent deal. As I came around one side of the red wine selection, I recognized a tag with an * in the corner.

If you’re not familiar with the Costco “wine code,” an * on the tag means that the wine is a clearance item that will not be restocked. Thus, they’re almost always worth a scan and always a pretty good deal.

I picked up a bottle, scanned it, and watched as the app came up empty on suggested retail. It found the wine and vintage, provided me with a lot of really high reviews, but couldn’t find a price…largely because it probably couldn’t find it on the market.

A more extensive Google search revealed reviews and wine ratings. Wine Enthusiast had given it 94 points! A few places had it once listed, but were now sold out. And then I found it at La Gitana Gold Reserve Rioja average price, $50. On sale at Costco now for $11.99!

A got disproportionately excited about this find at first. $12 a bottle is a good deal for wine that’s normally $50, but at $12 a bottle, I’m still a little more hesitant to scoop up a large quantity of wine I’ve never tasted. Our previous big buys have all been deals under $6 a bottle. But I don’t expect a $50 bottle to go for $6 any time soon! I bought four on the premise that it was, in essence, four for the price of one, and then immediately brought them home and opened one up to start decanting.

First, a few notes about how good this wine may or may not be and how much it may or may not cost in context. A little more research on the wine uncovered that it is imported to the US exclusively for Costco, meaning any comparative prices are from international markets. Making a comparison to US markets isn’t completely fair because many “local wines” (French wine in France, Spanish wine in Spain, etc.) actually gets marked up compared to international imports. I’m not saying that absolutely happened with this bottle, but it’s important context for comparing price points.

Second, unlike some wines that can slap whatever superlatives and descriptors they want on the bottle, Rioja actually has a strict set of standards that have to be met in order to be considered “Reserva.” A Rioja Reserva must be aged for at least three years before release, at least one in a cask. La Gitana Gold Reserve Rioja spends two years in American Oak before being bottled, and then spends a third year aging in the bottle before release. This also makes Rioja Reserva a good wine to allow to continue to age, as it’s been crafted to evolve over time.

However, it also means that you’re already drinking an aged wine. Rioja wine is being released at a point that the winery deems “drinkable.” Thus, your Rioja may be just as good today as it is in 5 years.

Consequently, La Gitana Gold Reserve Rioja recommends drinking their 2015 vintage between 2020-2030.

La Gitana Gold Reserve Rioja is dry and acidic while also managing to pack in a lot of full bodied fruit flavors like tart cherry, raspberry, and cranberry. There is a strong oakiness, which is to be expected from a wine that spends two years in the barrel, and an earthiness that’s not unpleasant. There’s of a dark chocolate bitterness and a general minerality. The wine definitely improved as it breathed, and the fruit flavors were allowed to take over.

The high acidity of the wine makes it an excellent pairing for rich dishes and red meats. Steak, tenderloin, pot roast, and stews would all be excellent options. We enjoyed the bottle over the course of the evening, and it worked well with everything from dinner to ice cream at dessert, so continue to allow the wine to breathe, and enjoy its versatility.

While I can confidently say I would not have paid $50 a bottle for La Gitana Gold Reserve Rioja, it definitely ranks up there with some of the $20-$30 bottles that we’ve found. Even that price point makes $11.99 a great deal though, so make your way to Costco as this is one clearance item sure to clear shelves quickly!


Published by Kate

A former Wisconsinite, Kate now resides in southeast Minnesota with her husband where she teaches high school English and theater. She recently completed her master's degree in learning design and technology, and continues to study and advocate for arts integration in the classroom. A recipient of the RISE America grant for high school theater, Kate is working to innovate and expand theater opportunities for the students at PIHS. An avid distance runner, concert pianist, and want-to-be wine aficionado, Kate's blog "ink." is a passion project, embodying all the best parts of life: friends, food, wine, thoughtful conversation, style, and sass!

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