A while back I recommended the El Cayado Bierzo from Oddbins (£8.99), and today I plugged it in my Sunday Express column, describing it as one of the best sub-£10 wines I’ve tasted this year.
I even went and bought a bottle because I liked it so much (the first bottle I tried was sent to me as a sample, and I believe it came from the stock used in the press tasting).
However, this tasted like a different wine. It was angular and quite dense, lacking the charm and elegance that I so liked in the first bottle I tried. I would not recommend this wine at £8.99, even though there was nothing particularly wrong with it.
So is this a different wine? I can think of a number of explanations for why it might taste different.
1. Me. Wines taste different on different days, and in part it’s because our ‘state’ changes from day to day. But this wine tastes so different, I think it really is a different wine.
2. The biodynamic calendar. But I don’t think this is an explanation – I tried the wine on three different days and it tasted the same.
3. Bottle variation. The closure is taint free and consistent (Diam), so it’s not closure related. There is a possibility that the bottling line wasn’t consistent in terms of oxygen pick-up, though. This is quite common.
4. Heat damage. Oddbins shops can sometimes get hot in the summer. But the Mas Theo Tricastin purchased on the same day from this store tasted fantastic.
5. Separate bottling runs; different lots of wine. This is a possibility.
6. Along the same lines: the producer ran out of wine, and so went and bought more wine in, blended it, and bottled it under the same label. This sometimes happens, and it’s bad for consumers. Unethical even.
7. Worst of all: the wines shown to the press were specially selected press tasting samples. Most merchants like Oddbins would call in samples specially for a press tasting rather than using their own stock. This would be deeply unethical were it the case.
Oddbins have responded. They said that most stores have the 2008 in stock. I reviewed the 2007, which was the sample I was sent. But there’s a good reason the bottle I bought tasted different: it was almost certainly the 2008 vintage, and I didn’t notice this because I didn’t bother taking a note. I just checked with Oddbins St Margarets, where I bought the wine, and their stock is 2008, so I’m pretty sure that it was the 2008 I tasted and didn’t like terribly much. In a way, I’m relieved, because the mystery is solved. But I also feel a bit of a twit for not thinking of this – the most obvious reason for the wine tasting different.