Thursday, 9 February 2017

"Angels and Devils, both the same"? – Casillero del Diablo v Camino del Angel

You could almost think that you’re seeing double.The bottle on the left is the biggest Chilean wine brand in the UK. In fact last year, it was the fourth largest wine brand in the UK overall. The one on the right is not.

There are certain aspects of bottle and label design which become generic, and immediately signal a particular type of wine. So the bottle with sloping shoulders says Burgundy, and Pinot Noir. There’s that Germanic style of lettering which says Chateauneuf du Pape. That narrow, tall, green bottle which says “picnic wine”. Or labels involving puns, which say “Put it back on the shelf, and walk away from the bottle…”

So is there now a “look”, a design, and a deployment of Spanish celestial personnel, which says, in a convenient visual shorthand, cheap Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon?

Casillero del Diablo is The Official Wine Partner of Manchester United. As far as I know, Man U have attracted no Official Champagne Partner, perhaps because they have lately had such little cause for celebration.

And possibly the best thing to have come out of this partnership is the commercial with which it was heralded. If you’ve seen it before, apologies, but it gets better with repeat viewings. Just because Eric Cantona made it as an actor, there was no reason to think that thespian talents might lurk elsewhere in Man U. And this 47-second commercial confirms the fact that, if all the world’s a stage, then some men are indeed merely players – football players, displaying all the acting ability of The Woodentops.

“Guys, we have a problem,” mutters Wayne Rooney, looking more than ever like Mr Potato Head. “The Boss says that a new devil is arriving.” It’s not quite clear why this represents a problem in Wayne’s World, except for the suggestion that any new arrival, diabolic or otherwise, might mark the end of his career.

“And what do they say about him?” asks Ryan Giggs. Perhaps he's preparing to offer advice on injunctions.

“They say…,” responds Rooney, who then pauses, either for dramatic effect or to recall his four remaining words, “He is a legend.” I have seen better acting skills in Nativity plays.

There is of course a “legend” – well, a story – behind the naming of Casillero del Diablo, “The Devil’s Cellar”. Once upon a time, the winery spread the rumour that their cellar was guarded by the devil, in order to scare off thieves. I tried something similar on Mrs K to protect my own wine, but she insisted that the malevolent noises in our cellar were coming from the tumble dryer.

As far as I’m aware, no-one has yet come out with similar twaddle to explain the new Camino del Angel, “The Angel’s Path”, but perhaps we could do it for them. Perhaps after several bottles of this wine, an old winemaker stumbling along the road had a vision of bright coloured lights and a voice which could only be that of a celestial angel. Until the voice said “Careful as you step into the ambulance, sir…”

There is, sadly, a far more prosaic story behind Camino del Angel. It is a new, Sainsbury wine; although only right down in the small print of the back label will you find that it is “distributed” by Sainsbury. Nowhere does it explain that Sainsbury actually own the name

And they don’t seem to be Official Partners of anyone, perhaps because there are no angels in football. (Except, it seems, for James Milner.)

I’m reminded of those brands you find in stores like Lidl or Aldi which sound sort of credible, until you realise that you’ve never seen them anywhere else. And of course, there is a whole angelic hierarchy waiting for competitors to play with should they decide to join in this Miltonic battle of the firmament, by bringing out brands like “Botellas del Seraphim” (© Sediment)

I leave it to others to consider whether the average shopper is so rushed, stupid or visually impaired that they might accidentally pick up one of these wines instead of the other. So let me help. Camino del Angel is the one which begins with an aggressive waft of alcoholic fumes, and provides an initial cherryish palate, before the flavour not so much develops as escapes, leaving you after ten opened minutes with a bland, oily Cabernet Sauvignon with a slap of alcohol.  Which costs just £5.75.

Get it wrong, and you might pay £7.50 for the Casillero del Diablo instead.


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