Does Price Really Matter Blind Wine Tasting

The Madison Tasters Club is a monthly tasting group comprised of non-industry, non-professional consumers of wine. The group is moderated by a professional Sommelier who selects the evening’s wines. Each month the group will taste six selections with a specific theme. The goal of the Madison Tasters Club is to educate, evaluate and create tasting notes to share the consumer’s perspective with a broader audience on the Bottle Pros blog.

The seventh gathering of the Madison Tasters Club was on May 29th with the theme, Does Price Really Matter. The group was presented three pairs of wine in a blind format. In each pair, one of the wines was priced under $12.00 and one with a value over $30.00. Without any knowledge on which wine was which attendees judged the wines and voted for their favorite. The results are interesting to say the least. Below we share with you the wines, their makeup and which wine won.

The First Pair

Wine Selection #1: Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay 2017

Appellation/Region: Napa Valley, California

Grapes: 100% Chardonnay (Alcohol: 13.7%)

Production/Aging We harvested the grapes by night in small batches as they reached perfect maturity. The fruit, cool from the evening temperatures, was pressed directly into tank using whole cluster pressing. We then transferred the juice into French oak barrels to ferment. In order to achieve maximum fruit expression, we aged the wine on primary yeast lees for eight months with intermittent stirring of the lees to enhance texture and boost complexity. 100% Barrel fermented/13% Malolactic Barrel aging: Aged for 8 months in 36% new French Oak

Priced at $32.99

Blind Tasted Against

 Wine Selection #2: Santa Carolina, Reserve Chardonnay 2017

Appellation/Region:  Leyda Valley, Chile

Grapes: 100% Chardonnay (Alcohol:13.5%)

Production/Aging :Fruit from different lots, soil types, row orientations are fermented in 40% old barrels, 60% in stainless steel tanks with 10% fermented with indigenous yeasts. The wine underwent no malolactic fermentation but spent 6 months with lees contact and French oak barrel ageing.

Priced at $9.99

The Results

The Santa Carolina Reserve Chardonnay beat the pricier Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay 11 votes to 5.

The Second Pair

Wine Selection #3: Domaine Bousquet Danaus 2017

Appellation/Region: Costre de Segre, Spain

Grapes:  45% Tempranillo, 38% Garnacha and 17% Syrah (Alcohol:13.5%)

Production/Aging:  The wine is a blend of 45% Tempranillo, 38% Garnacha and 17% Syrah all of which came from certified organic vineyards. Organic practices serve to keep the vineyard healthy resulting in vibrant fruit and invariably vibrant, expressive wines. Danaus is aged for four months in French oak which soften the wine and add subtle spice characters.

Priced at $11.99

Blind Tasted Against

Wine Selection #4: Roger Sabon Chateauneuf-Du-Pape Les Olivets 2016

Appellation/Region: Cotes du Rhone, France

Grapes: 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Cinsault (Alcohol:15%)

Production/Aging: Made from the youngest vines on the property with an average age of 50 years, Les Olivets is the largest production Châteauneuf-du-Pape at Domaine Roger Sabon. This Grenache-dominant cuvée also includes about 10% each Syrah and Cinsault and it is aged entirely in foudres and concrete tanks.

Priced at $41.99

The Results

The Roger Sabon Chateauneuf-Du-Pape Les Olivets beat the lesser expensive Domaine Bousquet Danaus by a narrow margin of 9 votes to 7.

The Third Pair

Wine Selection #: Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Appellation/Region: Knights Valley (Napa) California

Grapes: 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot (Alcohol:14.8%)

Production/Aging : To maintain the unique characteristics of the different lots from varying areas of the vineyard, each is monitored  carefully  through  the  vinification  and  aging  process.  Extended  maceration  created  larger  tannins  to  enhance  the  lush  mouthfeel  of  the  blend  and  extracted  a  maximum  of  color,  aromas  and  flavors. The wines were then aged in French oak barrels (30 percent new) for sixteen months and underwent malolactic fermentation for further development of texture and mouthfeel.

Priced at $32.99

Blind Tasted Against

Wine Selection #: Sterling Winery Meritage 2016

Appellation/Region: California

Grapes: A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Petit Verdot (Alcohol: 13.5%)

Production/Aging : The Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Petit Verdot grapes were picked at optimum ripeness and sent directly to the winery. Once in the winery, the grapes were cold soaked for two days followed by fermentation. The different varieties and lots were kept separate through the fermentation process and only came together when the winemaker assembled the final blend before bottling. The wine was aged for 11 months in a combination of French and American oak to integrate flavors, soften tannins and enhance the texture of the final wine.

Priced at $10.99

The Results

The Sterling Winery Meritage beat the pricier Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon by a narrow margin of 9 votes to 7.