Augmented Reality: The Owl & The Dust Devil

GoThey call it Augmented Reality, or AR, the technology behind the ‘Pokémon Go’ craze of 2016, that saw kids patrol the streets, mobile phones held out in front of them as they searched for Pokémon characters. Just another video game, yes, but thanks to AR, each player’s camera showed their real-life location and surroundings, in real time, with a range of Pokémon characters super-imposed on it, seemingly part of and interacting with, reality.

You may already have come across ’19 Crimes’, launched last year as the first range of wines to feature AR. Each label of the 19 Crimes range of Australian wines featured one of the British convicts sent to the colony in the 18th century, for violating one of a list of 19 crimes. Having downloaded the accompanying app, pointing the camera at the wine’s label animated the face of the convict as a voiceover told their story.

Now, Argentine producer Finca Decero has developed its own AR wine that takes things further, with the label transforming into a whole animated story of the wine and the vineyard that is very nicely done, again via a free app for iPhone or Android. You probably won’t watch it more than once, but it is a real talking point and another rare example of wine marketing grasping new opportunites to perhaps find a new audience, in a sector of the drinks industry that lags so far behind beer, gin, vodka, rum or whisky in making its products stand out through packaging and ‘experience’.

It’s also interersting that Finca Decero has chosen a high-end Bordeaux blend for the project rather than a cheaper wine, and that’s also a good thing because the wine certainly stands on its own merits, Augmented or not.

Before my tasting note, a short film I made to show the AR label in action:

(2018) A blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Tannat from a single, high-altitude vineyard in the Agrelo sub-region of Mendoza, this is a serious red blend that spent 18 months in French oak barrels. Interestingly however, it also uses augmented reality to tell the story of the vineyard, a beautifully done and entertaining adjunct to the stuff in the bottle: download the app, point your phone at the label, and the label 'comes to life' to tell the story in words and pictures. As for the wine, its a lovely Bordeaux-style blend, graphite and peppery spice layering ripe blackcurrant fruit on the nose, the medium-bodied palate creamy and juicy, chewy but slick tannins and an agile cherry-pit acidity giving length to the wine's volume. At time of review there are limited retailers of the 2015 vintage, and Corking Wines are listing the 2016.

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