I make no apologies for hounding the Chileans with regards to their use of the term Reserva. If there is no legal definition of the term in Chile then why are so many Chilean wine labels determined to use it as a selling point that indicates quality? Why does the EU allow it on labels when in many of its own wine regions there are strict, and legally enforced, definitions of the term. Allowing unbridled use of such an emotive wine term is a basic abuse that feeds off consumer ignorance. Wine makers in Chile who decide which of their wines will be labelled Reserva are, on the whole, an honest and well educated bunch. They are not doing anything wrong but look at it through the consumers eyes.
Rioja sells Crianza younger than Reservas and Gran Reservas. Chile ships similar and current vintages of both red AND white wines some bearing the term Reserva and others without. The distinction has been made by the wine maker based on his quality assessment of his own wines. This nonsense led to the following ridiculous situation in Tesco last week.
Middle stage here supports Caliterra Reserva Merlot at €5.00. Left of Stage we have Errazuriz Estate at €7.00 and Right of the action we have Carmen also at €7.00.
There are no losers here with regards to pricing. It's keen and what we expect from our supermarkets. Well done Tesco. If you buy on price in this instance you will be rewarded with a well worked Merlot for a fiver. I have the greatest respect for each of the chief wine makers at each of the three wineries in question. So, what's ridiculous? Well, last year Carmen withdrew its entry level non Reserva wine from the Irish market so that it could concentrate on introducing its Reserva range to us instead. This is still their strategy and I hope it works. The fact that they have had to reintroduce a non reserva to compete with dropping price points is simple commercial reality. Thing is though this non Reserva was €2.00 a bottle more expensive last weekend than its Caliterra Reserva competitor. Does the consumer win here? I have no idea.
I have absolutely no idea what criteria the Caliterra wine makers chose when assigning Reserva to their wine any more than I know why Carmen did not! What I do know is that the Carmen wine makers can choose to ship this non reserva as a reserva if they want to compete with a little more bite next time around! I don't believe they will but others will. Remember Tesco own label Chilean wines still carry the curious mixed message Reserva Especial. If, as I have said before Reserva means nothing out of Chile then does Especial Reserva mean nothing really special at all?!