The size of the price tag that is. (get your mind outta the gutter, this is a wine blog, not the Cosmo Magazine blog).
Although this question is nearly as old as the chicken and the egg debate, I have recently tried several price-comparison blind taste offs – same varietal, same vintage, same area – one wine at a high price point and one at a moderate price point.
A few nights ago, my wife and I were invited to friend’s home for dinner. On the menu for the evening were crab cakes and grilled shrimp which seemed an ideal occasion for a Sauvignon Blanc taste off.
For the evening, I went with a couple of California Sauvignon Blancs – the Grgich Hills Estate 2007 Fume Blanc ($33. Napa) and the Murphy-Goode 2007 The Fume ($13. Sonoma County), both are 100% Sauvignon Blanc.
I’ve wanted to try wines from both of these wineries for a while – Grgich Hills because of their commitment to Biodynamic viticulture and positive reviews from friends, and Murphy-Goode because of the recent ‘buzz’ created by their Social Media job opening (at a salary of $10,000/month), www.areallygoodejob.com.
Grgich Hills Estate is a family-owned winery in Napa that practices Biodynamic viticulture. Founder, Mike Grgich has deep roots in Napa and first gained international recognition at the famous Paris Tasting of 1976. It was Mike’s 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay that won that 1976 tasting. Grgich broke ground on the Grgich Hills estate in 1977. Murphy-Goode, located in Sonoma County, was founded in 1985 and was purchased by Jess Jackson in 2006.
Once we got to dinner, I popped the corks then wrapped the bottles in brown paper bags for the blind tasting. My first impression of wine #1 was, ‘fresh, crisp, bright lemon, lively acidity’ and my impression of #2 was ‘dull and flat.’
Upon opening the bags – the Grgrich Hills was wine #1, and the Murphy-Goode was wine #2. Overall the Grgich Hills Sauvignon Blanc was very fresh and complex for a California Sauvignon Blanc (of course, at the $33 price point I expect a lot). Initially this wine had a strong nose of lemon, grapefruit and peach followed by a zippy acidity. This wine opened up beautifully and was a perfect pairing to the crab cakes. After an hour or so, the wine opened up to display more peach and a creamy mango component on the nose, with an abundance of tropical fruits throughout. This is a supa dupa Sauvignon Blanc!
The Murphy-Goode Sauvignon Blanc, on the other hand, was disappointing. This wine appeared lifeless next to the Grgich Hills with a muted nose of lemon grass and lime with mild acidity, followed by citrus flavors in the mouth. I would pass on this one.
In this tasting, the higher priced wine was the clear winner to all four of us. In other price-comparison blind tastings that I’ve personally done, the higher priced wine has finished on top just over half the time – so I’m not convinced that price makes a difference other than in our head.
Thanks to the Cordosi’s for the great dinner.
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