We were very happy to see the newest vintage of the Kirkland Rioja Reserva (2015) in stock on a recent Costco run. However, we were quite disappointed to notice that there was not a single other Spanish wine to be found in the store, let alone another Rioja. Fast forward about 2 weeks and our prayers were answered. We found 3 additional 2015 Rioja Reservas to purchase, which would make for one epic side-by-side tasting. This is what it's all about - read on!
2015 Marques de Murrieta, Rioja Reserva ($18.99)
2015 Kirkland Signature, Rioja Reserva ($7.99)
2015 Marques del Atrio, Rioja Reserva ($8.99 - marked down from $14.99)
2015 Palacio de Primavera, Rioja Reserva ($14.99)
Wine #1: The nose jumped out of the glass with nice bright fruit and just a little oak. On the palate this wine tasted like a classic Rioja, with nice acidity, barnyard flavors, and brightness present throughout the taste. Juicy. Very pleasing. The color in the glass was the brightest of the four.
Wine #2: Nose was more muted and dark with hints of leather and black plum. Atypical in taste, this wine presented almost like a Bordeaux wine to some of our tasters. It is quite tannic with a solid backbone that also has some dark fruit flavor - most notably prune. The finish was "different" and dry. This is definitely a wine to pair with some rich food, which complimented the flavor profile quite well. The color was the darkest of the 4.
Wine #3: The nose was slightly muted but also had a hint of barnyard. It presented a little heat, suggesting high alcohol (it wasn't), but had nice dark fruits that seemed perfectly balanced with its dry tannins. There was a pleasing acidity and it seemed to be a very well-balanced wine - perhaps the most typical Rioja wine of the bunch. "Balanced" was the word the kept coming up about this wine, and it went splendidly with food.
Wine #4: The nose was a bit "gamey" and sour. This wine was perhaps the lightest mouthfeel of the bunch and seemed rather simple in comparison to the others. A comment mentioned more than a couple of times was "meh". Nothing truly stood out to the four tasters about this wine. Not a bad wine, just not at the level of the others.
4 tasters and 4 wines. This wasn't easy, which was a testament to the overall quality of each of these wines. The only clear verdict was our collective least favorite - wine #4. This was the 2015 Palacio de Primavera, Rioja Reserva ($14.99). After that, the next clearest verdict was indeed the "winner" of this tasting. 2 tasters preferred wine #1 (while the other 2 placed it in 2nd place). This was the 2015 Marques del Atrio, Rioja Reserva ($8.99 - marked down from $14.99)! Second Place was then a tie between the Kirkland and the Murrieta, with each garnering the same points on our very basic scale.
Each wine was solid here. All things being equal (and blind), our favorite was a $9 wine! This makes us very happy. What also makes us equally as happy, is that the Kirkland Rioja ($8) is on par with the most expensive wine of the bunch at $19 - more than double the cost! This is not an indictment on the Murrieta rather, it is a testament to the quality of the Kirkland Rioja.
This tasting represents the epitome of our intentions with these side-by-side tastings - same varietal, same vintage, same location, and all available from Costco at the same time. We hope to be this lucky with more of our tastings in the future. In the meantime, Rioja is coming up spades at Costco right now, and we are loving it.