More and more we see our friends purchasing and serving box wines -- not just to save money but to efficiently serve wine by the glass in the home. For roughly the equivalent of $5-6 per 750 ml bottle, consumers have caught on that 3-liter (equivalent of 4- 750ml bottles) box wines will keep their freshness up to 30 days after opening and are perfect for someone who just wants a glass or two of wine after a long day at work.
Typically these wines are not vintage dated and in the case of white wines fit easily in the refrigerator. We recently tasted two wines that we liked and want to recommend to our readers.
Silver Birch Sauvignon Blanc New Zealand 3 Liter Octavin ($21-23). This is a nice New Zealand classically styled sauvignon blanc. Not bone dry but this wine has a bit of residual sugar that balances out the natural acidity of the variety. Nice gooseberry and herb nose and flavors, this is an excellent value.
Seven Red Table Wine Bodegas Osborne Spain 3 Liter Octavin ($21-23). Seven refers to the number of grape varieties included in this blend. A blend of Spanish and classic French varieties this wine includes in descending order of inclusion cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah, petite verdot, tempranillo, grenache and graciano. Nice medium bodied cherry nose and flavors with a hint of spice define this uncomplicated wine that offers pleasant drinking at a great price.
If box wines aren't your cup of tea, so to speak, here are some other recent discoveries we recommend:
Sartori Di Verona Valpolicella Classico Superiore Vignetti Di Montegradella 2007 ($15). This is another lovely and softly constructed wine with velvety dried and ripe cherry flavors and nose, along with hints of violets and earth. A lot of complexity and pleasure for the price.
Madonna di Como Dolcetto D'Alba 2009 ($18). This wine offers a nose of pepper and licorice with quaffable cherry, blackberry fruit flavors. Try this uncomplicated wine with pizza.
Cellars Can Blau Montsant 2009 ($16). This is a spectacular Spanish blend of mazuelo, syrah and garnacha. Blackberry and cherry aromas with dense, sweet blueberry fruits, spice, oak and cloves. Full bodied, it is a nice match to wild game or beef and will improve with another 2 years in the cellar.
Domaine des Remizieres St. Joseph 2009 ($31). We've been unabashed fans of Rhone Valley wines. The syrahs from Gigondas and Vacqueyras have been fascinating to try, but we neglect to think of the village of St. Joseph. This wine is a stunning reminder why they shouldn't be overlooked. Loaded with unctuous, jammy blackberry flavors, this all-syrah wine has effusive hedonistic appeal. We went back to the store for more.
Marietta Sonoma County Zinfandel 2010 ($21). Year after year we are truly amazed at the consistent quality of this extraordinary zinfandel. Winemaker Chris Bilbro and his son Scot love zinfandel and style their version without the over-ripeness that we dislike. The wine has broad flavors of raspberries, black pepper and dried herbs.
Kendall Jackson Vintners Reserve Summation Red Wine Blend California 2008 ($17). A delightful blend of zinfandel, merlot, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, petite sirah, grenache, petite verdot and a few other grapes. This malange is a great blend that is very smooth and harmonious and offers flavors of berries and cherries in the mouth and nose. This wine is just fun to drink either by itself or with meat dishes, and red sauced pasta or pizza.
Roth Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley 2008 ($35). Blended with 83 percent cabernet sauvignon, 16 percent cabernet franc, and 1 percent merlot, this appealing wine tastes and smells of fresh cassis and black cherries with a long satisfying finish. Delicious!
Dry Creek Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel 2008 ($30). This powerhouse blend is made from 85-year-old vines and includes 9 percent petite sirah. Intense plum and berry flavors and nose dominate the profile. This bold wine would complement bold foods.
You probably don't have this in your cellar and odds are you won't find it on retailer's shelves either, but the Clos Du Val Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 is worth noting because it brings back a fond memory of a dinner with French-born Clos Du Val winemaker Bernard Portet. He explained to us that his wines were made in the French style and needed bottle age to fully develop.
He was right. We recently tasted this wine and were amazed by its development and complexity exhibiting a beautiful complex cassis nose and flavors and a finish that went on and on. The 2008 is the current vintage and sells for about $30. It is worth considering for your cellar, but be patient - we wouldn't try it until 2018.