Stepping out of the Supermarket
I read an article this week about how the price of a wine can influence your enjoyment of it. The study showed that people enjoyed a wine more when they were told it was four times more expensive than it really was.
I don’t really do expensive wine. I can’t justify spending hundreds of pounds on a bottle when I’ve got children who need things like food and shoes. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to taste some of the greatest wines in the world, which fetch thousands of pounds a bottle – but my weekly supermarket budget won’t stretch that far.
I was sent a press release about a new wine at the end of last year. It claimed to be the world’s first entirely hand destemmed wine. Basically the maker was saying that taking care to get the stems out of each grape by hand made the wine better because only the best grapes were being used and they were making sure that the stems didn’t find their way into the wine. The company offered to send me a bottle to review.
The bottle arrived in a large box from Italy. Inside the box was a leather bag with a beautiful one litre bottle of red wine. It was then that I thought I should do a bit of research, as this clearly wasn’t something you’ll find in the supermarket.
(I know this goes against the purpose of this site, but if someone sends me a bottle to review, I’ll review it.)
And that’s when alarm bells started ringing. The only place I could find any mention of Atomos wine was their own website, where you can buy the bottle I’d been sent for around 300 Euros. As I’ve said, I don’t often do expensive wine, so the price tag had me coughing up my supermarket Chianti. On the Atomos website you can also buy white wine, olive oil and a limited edition wine, which has a real gold logo and more elaborate leather bag (price not given!). The only other piece I could find online at the time was a review on a luxury lifestyle magazine website.
But if this is a new company trying to establish a name for itself without a presence in the UK, then it must be tough trying to break through. Atomos Wine is clearly pitching itself to the high end customer. The website is very stylish and the correspondence I had with the company was friendly, professional and included a handwritten note from the CEO and founder Stefano.
The literature I was sent with the wine told me it was made from 100% Montepulciano grapes from the Abruzzo region of central Italy. The grapes came from old vines, which produce concentrated flavours, and were harvested during the difficult 2018 vintage. The wine was fermented in steel tanks before being aged for 18 months in French oak barrels. The company says it made 400-800 bottles of this wine in 2018.
So what does it actually taste like? To be honest I was a little nervous to try it. During the last year, I’ve had such little opportunity to share wine with family and friends. But I made an exception with this one. I decanted some for my parents and delivered it safely and socially distanced and shared the rest with my mother in law, who is a big fan of Italian wines. It’s not every day I open a wine that is this exclusive and unknown.
And it is a fantastic wine. Deep ruby in colour, it has a really intense aroma of blackcurrant and dark cherry with a just a hint of oak. Flavours included black cherry, raisin and dried fruit and the tannins were really smooth. The standout quality of this wine though is how well balanced it is. It is full bodied and has lots of flavour, alcohol (14.5%), and acidity but in equal measure so that neither element over powers the other.
And the experience of opening, decanting, pouring, smelling and drinking this wine was a fantastic one. It did feel luxurious and special, which is what the company are aiming for. And experience is everything when drinking wine.
Which brings me back to my very first point in this post – did knowing the cost of the wine influence what I thought of it? Very probably. I’ve got a proper WSET style tasting note in my notebook, which confirms the levels of flavours, tannins and length. But did the wine make me smile and happy to share with family? Absolutely.
Back to supermarket wines next post!