I will be travelling this week, so I had to post early.
This week's Wine Blogging Wednesday, hosted by Billy of The Wine Cask Blog, hit on a great theme - Regular vs. Reserve wines. Are we getting our money's worth?
WBW #32 called for: same winery, same vintage, different price point. To narrow my potential choices, I worked with an additional restraint - with my cellar bursting at the seams, I had to use something on hand. Diving into my trusty excel spreadsheet, I discovered three potential combos:
- 2001 Chateau Lagrezette vs. the pricey "Cuvee Dame Honneur"
- 2003 Domain Grand Veneur vs. the "Cuvee des Generations"
- 2001 Montus vs. the Cuvee Prestige
In the end, I decided the Montus option was less expensive than the Lagrezette option, and the Grand Veneur was just not ready.
To make this a true test, the wines were decanted an hour before I began scoring and tasted blind.
The plain vanilla 2001 Chateau Montus was started extremely well - on the nose it was wild and gamey, and backed up by leather, musk, cloves, cocoa, vanilla, with a hint of clover. Divine! Well balanced, rich, and chocolatey with velvety tannins. Ready now, but may yet improve with some more bottle age. This was an elegant with a VERY long finish. (Blind, I scored it a half point below my December review).
A 1998 Cuvee Prestige was my first exposure to this esteemed Madiran house, and it has obviously had an impact on me. The 2001 Chateau Montus Cuvee Prestige was from a better vintage, so I had high hopes that this wine would trounce the basic Montus offering. On the nose the wines were very similar, both with gamey, earthy, cocoa aromas, with the Prestige also showing a more smokey and nutty nose. A tossup so far. The first taste of this wine was awkward and very tannic. It softened over the course of the evening, showing a similar richness and complexity to the regular Cuvee, but remained tannic and off balance. I scored it a half point below the basic Montus, but as it opened over the evening I noted that there is something about this wine that screams "come back in a few years!". I predict a future showdown...
There was food, of course, and both of these wines were harmoniously matched to our first barbequed steak of the season.
So, to answer Billy's question, the answer is no - the pricier Cuvee Prestige was not worth the extra C$22 today. But I think the Prestige has some secrets yet to be revealed, so a future rematch is inevitable.
Note: For a different take on Montus, have a look at Nilay's review of the basic 2001 Montus.