Over the last 35 years, the portfolio of Kendall-Jackson wines has grown organically through the call-response mechanism of winemaker foresight and consumer thirst. Today, the K-J portfolio offers five paths of exploration: Stature, Jackson Estate, Grand Reserve, Vintner’s Reserve and K-J AVANT.
This now highly-structured series began with Vintner’s Reserve. More specifically and very simply, it began with the Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay. It took Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay only ten years to become America’s best-selling Chardonnay. Every year since, wine drinkers have enthusiastically pulled bottles off the shelves to make this single wine America’s favorite.
Given the wine’s success and Jess’ determination to expand Kendall-Jackson’s selections into an even more irrisistible range, he introduced a red blend “Meritage” along with a Riesling and a Zinfandel in 1986. Eleven labels strong today, all the wines save the “Summation Red Blend” are varietal.
The Grand Reserve collection was born four years after the launch of Vintner’s Reserve. This nine-wine stable represents K-J’s winemakers’ selections of top lots from estate vineyards. Effectively, both lines showcase K-J’s vintners’ discerning choices.
What are the other differences between Grand Reserve and Vintner’s Reserve? They are subtle but important. Grand Reserve wines come exclusively from K-J’s estate vineyards. These wines are usually from only one, but sometimes two, appellations. The Vintner’s Reserve wines can be a blend of grapes from owned vineyards as well as from fruit purchased from trusted grape growers. Some Vintner’s Reserve wines may be so dynamically and artfully crafted as to come from fruit sourced all over the state of California. K-J’s winemakers craft others from a single appellation that perfectly fits the profile their consumer’s desire.
All of Kendall-Jackson’s wines are focused on cool, coastal grape-growing sites, and Grand Reserve wines focus even more narrowly on sources from mountains, ridges, hillsides and benchlands. Yet from wherever they hail, both the Vintner’s Reserve and the Grand Reserve collections aim to over deliver on quality for each wine’s variety(ies), style and price point.
Read on about the differences between Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve and Jackson Estate wines.
Christy Canterbury is a Master of Wine, journalist, speaker and judge based in New York City. In 2014, she was short-listed for the Roederer Online Wine Communicator of the Year Award. Her work has been published in Decanter, Wine Enthusiast, Edible Green Mountains, Wine Searcher, Food Arts, Snooth, Beverage Media, TimAtkin.com, Civiltà del Bere, Wine Business Monthly, TASTED, Selectus Wines and in other outlets.