Written by: Jamie

Updated: November 6, 2023

Kirkland Russian River Valley Pinot Noir Review

I love shopping for wine at Costco. Their huge buying power means they can afford to keep prices really low on wines which would otherwise be much more expensive.

Take this Russian River Valley Pinot Noir for example. A quick search on wine.com for Pinot Noir from this area brings up some great wines but they start at $20.

This Kirkland Pinot Noir costs just $13 at Costco, which on the face of it, is incredible value for money.

But, only if it tastes great though right? We better get into it!

Wine Specs

  • Price: $13
  • Vintage: 2021
  • ABV: 14%
  • Location: Russian River Valley (Sonoma County), California
  • Winemaker: Nancy Walker
  • Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir
Costco Kirkland Pinot Noir bottle and in glass


I paid $13 at Costco for this bottle. It's a Costco exclusive so if you see it elsewhere it's being re-sold at extra markup.

I mentioned this in the introduction but $13 for a Russian River Valley is extremely good value for money that you'll only find at Costco due to their huge buying power.

But it counts for nothing if the wine isn't great! So, it's only potentially good value at this point.

Pinot noir in glass from above


It's perhaps a little darker than your typical Pinot Noir but its a medium ruby like you would expect. It's translucent and light bodied.

Pinot Noir color in glass


This is where things get interesting with this Pinot Noir. I first opened the bottle, poured a glass, gave it a swirl, and smelled very little.

But, that's fine I thought, I'll let it sit in the glass for a while and come back to it.

An hour later, it had opened up a little but it was still very closed. It didn't smell (or taste) like it was spoiled, and actually at this point it tasted at its best.

The next day, almost 24 hours later I had a second glass. This time it was being more honest and the nose was more vibrant and revealing.

Dark fruit aroma of black cherry and plum were lifted by brighter red fruit notes of raspberry and pomegranate. It was all tied together by an earthy mushroom note and some delicate oak. 

It had finally come alive 24 hours after opening and the palate had changed too as you'll find out now.

Kirkland Pinot noir bottle and glass


The Russian River Valley AVA is well known for its Pinot Noir. The warm Sonoma County sun is cooled by a Pacific Ocean fog which lends itself to Pinot Noir grapes that are big on full fruit flavor but crucially retain that bright acidity. 

Pinot is a fussy grape but it loves the microclimate that exists in the Russian River Valley. 

At its peak, this wine had those characteristic flavors in just the right quantities. 

Like I mentioned in the previous section, my two tastings of this wine 24 hours apart yielded different results.

With regards to the nose of the wine, in the beginning it was closed. However, the palate told a different story.

My first sip took me a little by surprise as I was expecting the flavors to be flat like the nose. However, it was pleasantly vibrant and flavorful.

It's a fruit forward Pinot Noir, with plum, black cherry, pomegranate and raspberry taking the stage. There's a little cherry cola there too, with some delicate spice.

The medium tannins are well judged and integrated nicely, as is the acidity. It's a pleasant Pinot Noir that showcases the grapes attributes well with just the right amount of oak.

It's a light and juicy, fruit driven Pinot that's simple but enjoyable.

However, I should add that upon tasting it 24 hours later (when the nose has opened up), it had taken on a slightly astringent finish. This meant that as the nose improved, the taste of the wine was less enjoyable.


The 2021 Kirkland Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is a tough one to score. In the beginning, the palate was great but the nose was closed. The next time, the nose was much more pleasant but the palate had degraded.

I'm not sure whether I just got a bad bottle or every bottle is volatile like this, I'm eager to read the comments and find out! I'll pick up another bottle the next time I see it and update this review with another tasting anyway.

I can only speak upon my experience and for me, this was a really fussy wine. 

It needs plenty of air and the drinking window is short. It needs to be well managed to get the most out of it, which makes it a slightly frustrating experience.

But in its prime, it's really enjoyable and a steal at $13. 

It’s fruit forward, and very drinkable. It's not exactly a Burgundy Pinot but it's a really solid $13 wine. Russian River Pinot doesn't get this cheap and it delivers on taste.

I'm going to score this 7/10 but I feel like many people's experiences may differ from mine. It’s a bit unpredictable and I’d like to try another bottle or maybe it just needs another 6 months.

I want to hear your views! How did you get on with this wine? Let me know down below. Was I just unlucky or did you have similar issues?

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About the Author Jamie

I'm Jamie (James to some), professional over-thinker and aspiring pun champion. I'm fluent in emoji, sarcasm, and song lyrics.

I'm a certified cork dork wine obsessive and wineturtle.com is my megaphone.

I have the WSET Level 2 (with distinction) in Wine and I'm currently enrolled in level 3. I've also co-written a book on wine.

I look for value in wine and I'm always on the look out for the next hidden gem.

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