Have you tried any of our new ‘bag in box’ wines? I know, I know, box wines don’t have the greatest reputation but I have recently changed my mind about this particular style of wine packaging.
I first started experimenting with bag in box wine to address concerns about the environmental cost of shipping heavy glass bottles around the globe. What I found was that the problem with box wine was not the bag or the box, it was the wine. The juice inside the box was just not that interesting. Happily, we have found some Portuguese wines that have been successful here in the bottle and are now also available in the box.
Not all wines are appropriate for the box. This package is best when used for young wines intended for near term consumption. Wines that need time to mature should still be packaged in glass bottles, but after tasting the same wines in bottle and in box I am satisfied that the box can be a great way to go. The main advantage of the box is that it keeps the wine fresh from the first glass to the last drop. Another benefit is that the price drops considerably when buying the wine in box rather than by the bottle.
Lynne Bennett wrote a nice piece last week in the San Francisco Chronicle about taking box wines along on a picnic, which is a fine idea (less weight, more wine). A customer here in Berkeley stocks up on box wine to use as “earthquake supplies”. I have had great success just keeping a box on the counter or in the fridge at home to use as needed. I have taken to decanting a dinner’s worth of wine at a time so as to let the wine open up a bit in the air.
Here is our current selection of bag in box wine:
Alandra Branco 3 Liter ‘Bag in Box’ This young Portuguese white wine is floral and fruity yet possesses a bright element that keeps it refreshing. I used this last week for a delicious sangria using apricots, raspberries and Meyer lemons. The box, which will fit perfectly in your refrigerator, holds 4 bottles worth of wine so the cost comes out to $3.75 per bottle. $14.99
Alandra Tinto 3 Liter ‘Bag in Box’ The red Alandra in the bottle has been a popular ‘house wine’ around here. The wine is juicy and fresh with ripe berry fruit character. The same wine in box brings the price down to $4.00 per bottle (versus $6.99 in glass). $15.99
Quinta do Figo 5 Liter ‘Bag in Box’ This is a darkly tinted, expressive red wine from Portugal’s Estremadura region. It expresses black cherry fruit character, medium weight tannins and earthy background notes. The price here comes down to $3.90 per bottle’s worth of wine. $25.99
Capote Velho 5 Liter ‘Bag in Box’ My original review of this wine said “What A bargain! This non-vintage red wine from who knows where in Portugal has absolutely no pedigree but really delivers on freshness and versatility. This wine possesses gentle berry-like fruit character and moderate tannins coupled with a moderate level of alcohol (11.5%). Like a no name house wine in a little Portuguese bar or restaurant, this red tastes great by itself and will also accompany, but not overshadow, a broad range of foods.” We now offer this same wine in the more economical, environmentally friendly ‘Bag in Box’ size that contains five full liters of wine for $6.00 per liter (equals $4.00 per regular 750ml bottle). $29.99
Canary Islands Wine
The new vintage of Tajinaste wines, brought in by the intrepid importer José Pastor, has just arrived. These are some of my current favorite wines in the shop and if you have yet to try them, you are in for a treat.
On the island of Tenerife, in the demarcated Valle de Orotava region, the García Farráis family has operated a small winery since 1977. Using vines that date back to the early years of the 20th century they make wines from the Listán Negro and Listán Blanco varieties that are indigenous to this region. The vines grow low to the ground in craters hollowed out of the black volcanic soil to protect them from the strong winds that constantly buffet the island. The vines are braided together to further strengthen them from the elements. This unique environment produces pure, earthy wines. The white is tart and herbaceous. The red is lean and mineral. A small portion of both wines spends a brief period in neutral oak, imparting not so much barrel character but rather just a bit of added textural density.
Tajinaste Tinto Tradicional 2008
The wine is cloudy lavender in color with light texture and sweet floral perfume. Firm minerality creates a foundation which supports fresh mulberry fruit character and gentle tannins. $21.99
Tajinaste Blanco 2008
This interesting white wine, our first from the Canary Islands, is made from the local Listán Blanco grape. Pale straw color and mineral foundation frame aromas of white peach and lemon zest. This gentle yet lean white will compliment subtly flavored vegetable dishes and cold seafood appetizers. $19.99