There are countless terms used to describe wine, and many are often very ambiguous as there are no hard and fast rules for when those terms can be used. We are guilty of using some of these terms (they’re almost unavoidable), but we’ll do our best to remove the ambiguity with the terms we use so that you can better understand what we’re trying to convey. For this blog post I’ll dive into the term “Reserve.” When you look across the market, you’ll regularly see wines labeled as Reserve with varying price points. Some are very recent vintages, whereas others are released years after the grapes were harvested. This can be very confusing, and raises questions for when we release a Reserve wine.
Now when you look at our lineup of wines, you’ll notice that we’re not quick to release any of our reds, whether the wine is labeled as a Reserve or not. We do bin fermentations (i.e., VERY small batch) for all our reds. We punch down by hand. We barrel age every red wine. We wait years before we feel the wines are ready to be finished, bottled, and bottle aged. Those production steps remain the same across our current lineup of red wines (white & rosé wines are made differently), whether or not a wine has the Reserve designation.
So what do we change? First, we release our non-reserve wines first. These are reds that have been barrel aged, typically in neutral French oak barrels (i.e., barrels that have been used a few times before so they don’t impart lots of oak), for ~1.5 years+. They’re great tasting wines! When we bottle the wines, we use high-quality, natural cork that should stand up to significant aging. We’re not cutting any corners on these wines, so these are wines we’re very proud of.
As for our Reserve wines, we let them age in barrels a bit longer so that tannins further soften, the mouthfeel becomes more rounded, and the barrel aging will impart additional oak flavoring. Thus far, we’ve kept our reserve wines in barrels for ~3.5-4 years. Some of our reserve wines are exposed to new oak, rather than primarily neutral barrels. Now when we go to finish a wine that’s worthy of our Reserve designation, we’re not blindly mixing all barrels together. First we taste through every barrel individually. We tier them based on the quality of wine in each barrel. The best of the best make it into our Reserve lineup. Anything that we don’t deem as fantastic will be repurposed or sold off so that our Reserve wines are exemplary of the best we can offer.
Now for packaging. We use a higher quality, natural cork for our Reserve lineup to better ensure the wines can be laid down and aged in your cellar. We also put a capsule over the cork to better preserve the cork for years to come.
Going forward we may very well have some additional production changes between our non-Reserve and Reserve wines, but we will always be open and honest with our customers, and Reserve wines will continue to demonstrate excellence!