Mr Grumpy: bottles with bling

Bob Campbell MW (AKA Mr Grumpy). The Real Review

I opened the box cautiously and took a step back when the sight of its contents hit me between the eyes.

As a wine critic I have to rate what’s in the bottle. I rarely comment on packaging. A glossy gold label enveloped the entire bottle. The wine was champagne. I didn’t need to read the accompanying tasting sheet to learn that it was a prestige champagne. I did think that the brand name Stradivarius was a bit over-the-top.

Most liked it and would pay more for it than the same wine in a plainer package. Some thought that it was a “bling too far”.

The maker was Charles de Cazanove, a reputable champagne house that had been making fizz for 200 years. It was a vintage champagne from 2009. The retail price was NZD $200 which seemed about right if the wine was any good.

I set up a blind tasting with three bottles: Johanneshof 2009 Emmi Méthode Traditionnelle Brut (Marlborough) and Cloudy Bay Pelorus.

I chilled the wine to a couple of clicks above fridge temperature and carefully withdrew the cork. The wine tasted good … in fact, very good. I gave it a 95-point rating—the top score. Stradivarius earned top place, but not by much.

The bottle sat on my kitchen bench for a couple of weeks where it attracted considerable attention. Most liked it and would pay more for it than the same wine in a plainer package. Some thought that it was a “bling too far”. Quite a few thought it was “fun” and not at all over-the-top (my wife, Marion, was among them). Packaging should tell a story and it should be eye-catching.


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