From $22.97, 27.90 Swiss francs, SG$55, £138 per case of 6, CA$36.99
The 800-plus wines that have been chosen as a wine of the week on these pages all have something in common: they all stand out from the crowd in some way. They all share a minimum standard of quality, of course, and some might be particularly good value for money, or come from a new producer, vintage or region. Some are great representations of the classics, others might be innovative blends. But until now, none has stood out for their use of augmented reality.
Effectively conveying your story is arguably the hardest thing about winemaking. The vast majority of producers rely on tales of unique terroir, clonal provenance, vine age, high diurnal variation and many other tropes that are repeated ad nauseam. The trouble with unique terroir is that every grower says they have it.
Finca Decero in Mendoza evidently understand that to really grab a drinker's attention, they need a story that is more memorable and more stirring than a simple claim. The Owl and The Dust Devil has got just such a story – and a brilliant way of telling it.
By downloading an app and pointing the camera of your smartphone at the bottle, an augmented reality animation begins, as demonstrated below (audio begins at 0:25).
Gimmick it may be, but the production value is great, and the novelty of augmented reality on a wine label has thoroughly impressed everyone I've shown it to. In an industry where marketing and innovation is often an afterthought at best, this wine stands out for making the story of the wine so memorable.
The wine itself is a blend of 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Malbec, 19% Petit Verdot and 10% Tannat aged in 40% new French oak barriques for 18 months. The vineyards stand at 1,050 metres (3,500 feet) above sea level in the Agrelo subdistrict of Mendoza. At 14.5% alcohol it is typical of full-bodied Argentine reds, with sweet vanilla spice and candied black fruits, velvet tannins and a touch of leather and liquorice on the finish.
While the blend is perhaps slightly unusual, the style is very familiar and should appeal to any fan of Argentine Malbec or other similarly robust New World reds. At £23 per bottle in the UK, there are certainly better value wines of its type in the market, but none of those has their own augmented reality app, and I think it is worth paying a premium to benefit from novel and clever marketing.
You'll remember the story of the owls guarding the vines from the dust devils long after you've forgotten the price.
In the UK, The Owl and The Dust Devil is currently available only via Amazon in cases of six (costing £138); however, it is available in at least five American states as well as in Singapore, Switzerland and Canada. For a full list of stockists, click here or use the Wine-Searcher link below.