Kirkland Champagne – Who makes it and how good is it?

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.

Real Champagne for $19.99

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.

Manuel Janisson pours us a sample from the stainless steel aging tank

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.

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Comments

  1. Wow, this is great news! Thank you so much for finding out about this sparkling wine which is the “real deal!” I’ll definitely be purchasing this for my New Year’s event!

  2. David Vergari says:

    Is this wine “Methode Champenoise” or Charmat?

  3. I sampled a bottle of Kirkland Champagne on New Year’s Eve eve, and it was surprisingly good. And better than some of the more expensive bottles poured that night.

    • We did a side-by-side comparison with a year-old $40 bottle of Champagne. The Kirkland was the choice of most.

  4. when you were in Le Breiul, did you stay at la Ravenne?
    we stayed there before (and we will again in April).

    did you try the wine their neighbors made?

    this isn’t a name-dropping sales pitch…. I’d welcome a response- even if “off forum”

  5. I agree, the Kirkland Champagne is fantastic!

  6. I have been drinking it for awhile. A very nice champage. Interesting to hear its’ history.

  7. I have purchased several bottles of this champagne and have been very pleased.
    Even though Veuve Clicqout is commparable, I like the Kirkland better. It’s like a party in your mouth.. CHEERS !!

  8. This Champagne is amazing. Nothing can compare to it…Its the best I’ve ever had….and for the price its a great value…

  9. The Kirkland Champagne is back! I have not seen it stocked in Costco since January. They have loads at the Redwood City store. $19.99 made by Manuel Janisson. It is the real deal!

  10. I don’t see the need to seek out actual Champagne anymore when so many outstanding sparkling wines are being made in the world. You are paying a premium just because the name Champagne is on the bottle. In California the excellent Mumm Napa wines are under $20 and the outstanding Roederer USA can be found on sale for $20. There are also amazing CAVA wines from Spain (not the under $10 industrial stuff) selling at $12 to $15. When you buy these wines you are buying top efforts from these producers. When you buy $20 Champagne you get the lowest quality of wine produced in the Appellation. To me a deal is getting the best wine for my money, not getting the wine from the most famous Appellation. I certainly don’t mean to criticize this producer, who I am sure is excellent, but the concept of buying the cheapest wines made from famous regions (including my own Napa Valley) is not the best way to find a great deal.

    I also think retailers like Costco are loaded with imitation bargains when it comes to wine. Small retailers and importers offering passionately made wines from lesser known regions are where the real deals are to be found.

  11. I also forgot to add the excellent Argyle Sparkling wines from Oregon. Great deals

  12. Merle Wexler says:

    Did Manuel Janisson also make the one now in costco stores (11/12/11)?

  13. Arthur Horowitz says:

    Although there are many fine sparkling wines fashioned after champagne, and there are even some generic champagnes sold in the US which are ugly, I don’t understand Mr. Camp’s attack on the champagne appellation. For the most part, the French big name producer’s sparklers made in California, Argentina and elsewhere, are not nearly as good, (perhaps with the exception of Roderer which comes close, but not quite) as the real thing. I find the Kirkland champagne, to be a superb wine comparable to most non-vintage “brand name” champagnes at 2/3 to 1/2 the price. Might I suggest one of my favorite California sparkling wines is Schramsberg Mirabelle and Mirabelle Rose. These are their entry level wines, but they are nearly the same price as the Kirkland product. The Rose of course is a horse of a different color, and a bargain compared to other Rose sparkling wines. The normal Mirabelle, although lovely, does not quite measure up to the Kirkland product. As far as great Cava, I have had them, but can never find the same one a second time. And if they are really great, they cost more than the Kirkland product.

  14. John Ferreira says:

    I bought the Kirkland Rose Champagne today at 24.99. This is an absolute steal. Quality of this Rose is right up there with the Cliquot Rose for about 60% less price and the Kirkland (Janisson) is better. To those who love Rose Champagne, buy what you can fast because it will run out.

    • Fantastic! Thanks for commenting on the Rose. We were there at the Champagne House and enjoy all the wines made by Manuel Janisson. Cheers, Joe

  15. nancy trimble says:

    how many calories i kirkland champagne brut 12.% ETOH in 750 ml?

    • So sorry but I do not know the answer to your question. On average, a glass of wine has about 90 calories. At least that is what I have been told.

      Joe

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