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Apr 10

WBW #32: Reserve v Non-Reserve

WbwlogoThis month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday** asks us to focus on a reserve and a non-reserve wine and assess if it is truly different and if so, worth the cost. We had a little trouble finding our wine. We didn’t want to drop a large amount of money, but we wanted to find wine we would enjoy.

After a lot of searching, we ended up with two Chilean wines from Cono Sur. The Cono Sur winery is located 93 miles south of Santiago, in the heart of the Colchagua Valley. The vineyards are in the southernmost tip of South America, with the line of Andes Mountains nearby. Cono Sur, a small division of the Concha Y Toro wine company, is not quite organic, but uses as few pesticides and chemicals as possible. Instead, they rely on geese, grass, and garlic to combat bugs and other natural enemies.

Conosur_logo_4We chose the Cono Sur 2005 Merlot and the Cono Sur Visión 2005 Merlot, with Visión being the "reserve" line. We tasted the wines blind, so that we wouldn’t ascribe any preconceived notions about "reserve" to the wine. In the end, we preferred the more expensive Visión Merlot. We found it to be the better structured, more complex of the two wines. In this case, the reserve was worth the $3 more. However, we still believe that it is all subjective. Do not ever feel as if you are wrong if you prefer the non-reserve wine. The flavors and nose of that wine may just appeal to you more, and that’s perfectly fine.

Our wines:
Cono Sur Merlot 2005, Chile, $7.99 (from Liquor Direct, Covington)
Cono Sur Visión Merlot 2005, Chile, $10.98 (from Liquor Direct, Covington)

Thanks to the Wine Cask Blog for hosting this month’s virtual tasting!

Full reviews and ratings are after the jump.

**I know, I’m a day early. It’s Wine Blogging Wednesday on Tuesday!

Remember that we tasted these blind and were unaware of which was the reserve.

Cono Sur 2005 Merlot, Chile, $7.99: This wine had a full nose of blackberries and plums. We had different reactions to the taste. I found it to be heavy in green pepper (I hate green peppers) whereas Kevin’s immediate reaction was that it made his teeth feel fuzzy. While the wine is tannic, you don’t feel that the tannins are necessarily holding everything together in your mouth. There is a bit of explosion of flavor, including plums, beets, peppers, licorice and smoke. The web site suggested that there is some chocolate flavor in there, but I didn’t find it. However, I tried each wine with a Hershey’s Kiss. The chocolate kiss helped downplay the green pepper in this wine.
Our rating:

Cono Sur 2005 Visión Merlot, Chile, $10.98: We found that this wine had a woodsier, earthier nose that included some mushroom and some plum. On the tongue, you get a lot of jamminess, but it’s also rather earthy. I always like a bit of "dirt" in my wine, so I enjoyed this one. Unlike the non-reserve, the tannins were more tightly structured, holding together and guiding the tastes in  my mouth. I found it interesting that the grapes for this wine are located in a specific patch of vineyard next to an old railroad depot. There is a picture of a train engine on the label. This wine responded well to my Hershey’s Kiss, bringing out more chocolate flavors and softening the tannins a bit.
Our rating:

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