I very nearly did it.
I very nearly day-dreamed my way through a wine purchase at a supermarket by simply half-looking at the label and assuming that I knew what I was picking up.
Nestled right next door to the Chilean stalwart Casillero del Diablo was Camino del Angel, a new offering from Sainsbury’s whose label bears more than a little passing resemblance to the former.
Filtering out the generics of a plain white label with a black band below and a circular motif, the main font for the brand name is blatantly emulated and the sub-conscious mind sees the capitalised C and lower case d.
Of course it’s not the first time that a particular wine from a particular country has slipped in to a ‘house’ style across brands and retailers. A clear example is the number of line drawings of mountain ranges that can be found on Argentinian Malbec.
Both Camino and Casillero are from the Central Valley in Chile, both are from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape and the 2015 harvest. Both are 13.5% in alcohol and both are similarly labelled so, will they be similar in taste?
I awoke from my daydream, knowingly purchased them both, and decided to put them through the taste test.
Camino del Angel Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 , Valle Central, Chile, 13.5%, £7
The nose of this wine was clean and full of ripe fruits. I could detect intense blackcurrants, plums and damson blue fruit, mixed in with a whiff of cake and pepper spice and touches of vanilla florality. The overall impression of this wine, even before tasting it, was rich with the tertiary characters of both liquorice and meat.
On the palate the overall sensation continued with a somewhat beefy rich texture. Even though there was a fairly high acid to match this out, the combination of the stewed dark fruit and almost chewy grainy tannins meant this was a tough taste. Alongside the sour fruit, touches of ash and bitterness added further to this austerity, and the stalky raw finish is what you have left in your mouth on the end palate.
On day 1 I didn’t get the feeling of a particular blend or style and it did feel mass produced. In the spirit of fairness, on day 2, the blend did feel a little more structured, but nonetheless fairly forgettable.
Casillero del Diabo Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 , Valle Central, Chile, 13.5%, £6.50 (on offer, usually £7.50)
On the nose this wine was no less full of activity and flavour, but this time was of a silky/velvet quality. We still have the blackcurrant fruit, but this time we also see the addition of some red cherry. This slightly deeper complexity is matched by a subtle vanilla florality, and the whole is both bright and uplifting.
On the palate there is a good medium mouth weight, light grippy tannins with a medium matching acidity. Black cherry is the predominant fruit alongside blackcurrant and pepper spices. Overall the mouth sensation is dark and brooding, more given over to bitter chocolate and mocha.
These tertiary characters are testament to the blending, with the damson and blue fruits taking a backseat in this wine. There’s still a touch of raw quality (green and stalky characters), but the overall sensation feels more complete.
Summary: One interesting aside from the tasting was looking at the bottles once they were empty. As you can see from the picture below the Camino bottle is significantly lighter in colour.
Whilst there are environmental benefits from this (with a weight of 421 grams as opposed to 520 for the Casillero) including travel expenses and glass wastage, it is well known that the darker the glass, the less light penetration there is. With light being one of the enemies of wine storage, this ability to repel will contribute to a wines ageing potential.
In summary, consumers should keep their eyes open and be aware of what they purchase. Whilst the labels on these bottles may be similar, it is interesting to debate whether the extra 50p for the Casillero has gone on the increased cost of the glass used.
If it has, would you happily trade up on taste at a small cost per bottle to the environment?