Wine Blogging Wednesday was conceived by Lenn Thompson at Lenndevours. Basically once a month, wine bloggers across the web review wines in a theme. Every month a new blogger is picked to come up with a theme and host all the reviews. This month, The Wine Cask Blog is hosting and the theme is Showdown: Regular vs. Reserve.
This will be the first time I'm participating and I'm really excited about it. Billy at the Wine Cask Blog came up with a tall order. The two wines had to be from the same vienyard, the same year, and the same producer. That left me in a bit of a quandary at the store as most reserve wines are held in barrel for an extra year before bottling, and are subsequently released later.
I did manage to find a Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay and Grand Reserve Chardonnay both from 2005 and both "Estate Grown". Both bottles said the grapes were from K-J's estate vineyards in Sonoma, Monterey and Sana Barbara counties. The K-J chard was $11.99 on sale (normally $15.99), and the K-J Grand Reserve was $13.99 on sale (normally $22.99).
I tried both wines at the same time to allow for careful comparison. They both appeared a pale straw color that was nearly indistinguishable. Both of them exhibited similar citrus and apple aromas. My initial reaction was that the reserve was more subtle in its flavors than the regular, along with a slight effervescence in the reserve that was very pleasing. I had expected to find more oak on the reserve, but was pleased to find that the reserve was restrained in its oak influence. I found both of these wines pleasing, but given the price I paid or the reserve I think it was a clear winner. I'm not sure I would have felt the same if it had been $22.99, but for a $14 bottle of wine, this was quite good. In the end I think it was the style of the reserve, not necessarily complexity or flavor profile, that drew me to the wine.
The challenge was to determine if the reserve was worth the extra price. I think that in this case it was a better wine. I'm curious to see how all the other reviewers experiences turned out.