Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Wine Blogging Wednesday #32 - Regular vs. Reserve

Our assignment for WBW #32 addresses a matter of choice: Regular vs. Reserve. The premise is to describe two bottles of wine from the same varietal from the same producer and compare and see how the juice differs inside of these two bottles. In other words, which wine do I prefer, and do I feel the "reserve" named wine is worth the higher price?

But rather than narrow the choice down to a single varietal from a single winemaker, I chose to go with the same varietals -- plural, that is. I got some suggestions from Anne (Tasting Room Manager) and Patty (Marketing Director) at Forgeron Cellars in Walla Walla for examples, and in the end we agreed that Forgeron Cellar's popular Red Table Wine and Forgeron's proprietor's blended reserve, Vinfinity, would make perfect compare-and-contrast examples, as these wines are made from very nearly the same blends.

The Red Table Wine (aka RTW) is a non-vintage blend of, primarily, Cabernet Sauvignon for structure, followed by Merlot for roundess and a dash of Syrah for spice. While the blend is a great value for $16 a bottle, Forgeron did not skip on quality, as some of Washington State's most notable vineyards, including Klipsun, Alder Ridge, Dubrul, Sundance, Boushey and Pepperbridge, contribute fruit to the finished wine.

The 2002 Vinfinity is somewhat pricier, $46, and comprises a blend of 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 41% Merlot, and 18% Syrah. But like the Red Table Wine, it is made from Washington grapes from the Boushey, Alder Ridge, Clifton and Klipsun vineyards. I have tasted the '02 Vinfinity at various times and have watched this wine come of age. When it was first released, in December 2005, the wine featured big but balanced tannins, but now these tannins have softened, and the wine's mouthfeel keeps getting silkier. I have to be honest here: I tasted the '02 Vinfinity when it was first released and I thought it was, well, just okay. It offered nothing really very memorable for me, and frankly I kind of avoided it. However, in the last few months I re-tasted the wine, and wow, what elegance! It's got lots of depth and complexity now, yet I think it's going to keep getting better.

Both of the wines, the Red Table and Vinfinity, show big flavors of cherry and dark cocoa with a hint of spice in the finish. But do I think there is a difference? Which is another way of asking, of course: Is the Vinfinity worth the higher price? Yes, absolutely. I am not sure what winemaker Marie-Eve Gilla does in the cellar when she practices that "voo-doo-that-she-do-so-well" (or is it the chant of "ting-tang-Walla-Walla-bing-bang"?), but the Vinfinity is clearly a higher quality wine than the Red Table. Yet this isn't to dis the RTW: each wine serves a purpose and has a place for the money that cost. Forgeron's RTW is meant to be enjoyed now. The only age I think it needs is in the car between the store and home (well, you could probably put a year on it -- but why?), while the Vinfinity can be aged for about seven to ten years from the date of vintage. Softer tannins showed in the RTW from the very beginning, while the bigger tannins the Vinfinity showed makes for an ageworthy and, eventually, more elegant wine.

Which do I prefer? That's the tougher question, because I like them both for different reasons. I also pair the wines differently with food. For everyday sipping or for spur of the moment and casual entertaining, I really enjoy the RTW. Guests always comment favorably. And they are always amazed at the retail price for the quality. The RTW is definitely a wine for barbeques or Monday night meatloaf. My favorite pairing is a glass of RTW with a handful of Hershey chocolate kisses.

The Vinfinity is special. It is meant to be paired with a beef filet or smoked salmon and a Vinfinity reduction sauce -- it needs rich, almost decadent meat to match its silky elegance. It deserves a better chocolate than Hershey kisses - say one of the exotic chocolate bars from Vosges Haut-Chocolat. Vinfinity is a wine that is saved for special events and gatherings with family and close friends. So why not serve the very best?

To really sum up this exercise of regular vs. reserve, I will quote winemaker Marie-Eve, of Forgeron Cellars - - “In wine there are few truths, and many opinions...”

1 comment:

Catie said...

If you would like to read what other wine blogs discovered in their comparisons between "Regular vs. Reserve" for "WBW #32, please check out:

The Wine Cask Blog