By John Rozentals.
question I’m asked often enough to make it worth pondering. Is a wine that
costs twice as much as another necessarily twice as good?
wines that lobbed on my desk last week provided the near-perfect basis for such
a comparison — two reds, both from the same winemaker, produced from the same
area and from the same grape variety, but one priced at $30, the other at $18.
Michael Fragos, a thoughtful winemaker who loves provoking discussion.
$30 corner stood the Chapel Hill 2015 McLaren Vale Shiraz. Its opponent,
weighing in at $18, was the Chapel Hill 2016 The Parson Shiraz, also made by
Michael Fragos from grapes grown at McLaren Vale.
question, of course, is a trifle facetious. What basis do we have for making
the comparison? Perhaps the only valid basis would be to score both wines on a
system such as that often used by show judges.
involves scoring each wine out of 20, with three points allocated to colour/appearance,
seven to bouquet and ten to palate. A wine scoring 18.5 or better would be
rated as a gold-medal wine, a score of 17 to 18.4 would be given a silver
medal, while 15.5 to 16.9 would garner a bronze medal.
exceptionally strong class of wines may return quite a few gold medals, a weak
class may be given none at all.
probably rate the $30 wine at about 18 points, awarding it a high silver. To
say that the $18 wine was only a little over half as good would mean scoring it
about 11, but such a score would indicate a wine that was seriously so faulty that
most consumers would probably choose not to put it in their mouths.
I’d probably score the cheaper wine at about 15-16 points.
answer to the original question is a definite no. A wine that costs twice as
much as another isn’t going to be twice as good, but it should definitely be
remember something from high-school economics about the law of diminishing
marginal returns. I think it may have some application here.
Hill 2015 McLaren Vale Shiraz ($30): A lovely, richly flavoured, mouth-filling
dry red with a great depth of complex flavours.
Hill 2016 The Parson Shiraz ($18): A simpler, considerably less faceted wine
without the same depth of flavour on the palate. Still a perfectly acceptable
dry red though.
Wine of the Week:
Estate 2016 Moscato ($10): An unashamedly commercial style with low alcohol
(just 7 per cent) and plenty of residual sugar, showing light-bodied but excellent
fruity Muscat flavour. Serve chilled.