Our last article on GoodCheapVino listed our top bargain sparkling wine selections for New Year’s. It included only one Champagne and with this post we reveal the inside information on that wine. What a total surprise when we read the back label of the Kirkland Champagne we recently purchased for $19.99. How good could it be and who the heck makes this Champagne for Costco? Well, lo and behold, the back label revealed that the producer of this wine is Manuel Janisson. This past September we visited the wine country of France and spent one week in the Champagne region. We rented a beautiful old country home with two other couples in the village of Le Breuil. For one week we toured the Champagne region in our rental car. One of the highlights, and a most memorable experience, was a two-hour tour and tasting with Manuel Janisson; yes, the guy who is presently making the Kirkland Champagne that is available this holiday season in Costco stores.
The Janisson Champagnes are beautiful wines. This Champagne House is located in the Village of Verzenay, a designated Grand Cru village. Grand Cru signifies the finest and best vineyards in the Champagne region. That is why the Janisson Champagnes have such complexity, minerality, and beautiful finish. How would the Costco Champagne made by Janisson compare? Although it may not be as good as the Grand Cru Champagnes of Janisson & Sons, this Champagne is delicious and with great character. We love the slight orange citrus aroma and delicate structure. This Champagne is a bargain at this price and certainly compares very well with the likes of Veuve Clicqout that sells for $39.
I contacted Manuel Janisson and asked him about the Costco Champagne. Here is what he had to say about it. Very few of his Grand Cru and Premier Cru grapes went into the blend of this wine. He sourced most of the grapes from other quality vineyards and it is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The wine spends “20 months aging on the yeast.” He thinks he has developed a very balanced Champagne and with the price of $19.99, he says it is an amazing value especially when compared to many of the second labels of the big champagne houses. He also stated that the markup on this wine is “almost nothing.” Interestly, he says his small number of U.S. importers are not too happy that he has made these deals with Costco.
Bottom line, if you want real Champagne without breaking the bank, give the Costco Kirkland-labeled Champagne a try. You will not be disappointed; it is the real deal. Don’t worry about offending your guests with the Kirkland label; just don’t let them see it. The appropriate way to serve Champagne is to drape a small towel around the bottle while you serve and pour. You tell your guests that you have some beautiful Champagne from France to serve them. They will heartily agree.
If you would like to read about our visit to Janisson and Sons, please visit the WineTraveler.