This is such an exceptional value that I want to jamb a $10 bill into the empty bottle and mail it back to the winery in Cachapoal Valley, Chile.
We did a bit of a psychology experiment with this bottle. When sommeliers knew the price of this wine ($10) before tasting it, they used terms like “very charming,” “top value,” ” wisp of leather,” “surprised by the wine’s balance,” “food-friendly” and “over-delivers”
When sommeliers don’t know the price of this bottle, they use very different phrases. “Smart and polished,” “lovely balance of flower and cedar,” ” Polished and rich-tasting,” “well-proportioned,” and “tobacco and earth, herbaceous notes, and a mineral streak.”
Both sets of sommeliers loved this wine –most rated it as exceptional– but their language in describing the wines was very different. Why is that? A group of researchers and scientists are calling the “marketing placebo effect” (link)
Study volunteers were first shown bottles of wine with the prices clearly marked, and then given a small amount to drink while they were in an MRI scanner. For each wine, they were asked to rate the taste on a nine-point scale. The wine prices shown to the participants ranged between $4 to $22, but in reality, all of the wine was the same and cost about $14.
As predicted, the volunteers rated the allegedly higher-priced wine as tasting better than the allegedly cheaper wine. The MRI scan showed that when those evaluations were made, two parts of the volunteers’ brains experienced greater activity—the medial pre-frontal cortex and the ventral striatum. That’s important because those two areas are especially involved in evaluating expectations and seeking rewards. When we see a higher price, our brain links the price to greater expectation of reward, which changes our perception—in this case, taste.
This is a well-known problem that plagues sommeliers and wine critics. Studies have shown that wine critics use overly dramatic language only when describing expensive wines.
It’s one reason we always taste blind and never disclose how much wine costs during a class. Okay, on to the wine review.
A nice whiff of tobacco follows the aromas of fig and cigar box. A medium-weight wine with plenty of grip and extraction, green olive and graphite notes show this to be a pitch-perfect Cabernet Sauvignon. Decadent flavors of cherry coulis, bitter chocolate, and eucalyptus put this beauty into the “must drink” category.